United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis Tygart says he has now closed the door on any chance Lance Armstrong had of co-operating with the agency and thereby possibly see his life ban reduced.
As recently as the middle of last month, Tygart said he was “hopeful” that Armstrong, last year stripped of the seven Tour de France titles he won between 1999 and 2005, might answer USADA’s questions under oath to reveal the full extent of what he knew.
But speaking this afternoon at a seminar at the Ulleval Stadium in Norway’s capital Oslo, Tygart revealed that prior to Thanksgiving, which this year fell on 28 November, Armstrong told him that he wasn’t interested in speaking to USADA, reports VG Nett. A video of his speech is at the end of this article - the start is in Norwegian, Tygart's presentation though is in English.
Tygart said that it would have been better for the sport if Armstrong had come clean in June 2012 when USADA first charged him, noting that much of the information he could have provided had since come out from other sources.
While Armstrong made a partial confession of doping to Oprah Winfrey in January this year, he did not admit to having used performance enhancing drugs after his return to the sport in 2009, as USADA said he had done in its reasoned decision.
He also denied to the chat show host that the UCI, including its then president Hein Verbruggen, had helped him cover up his doping – but last month said the Dutchman had been complicit in a bogus and backdated prescription for a saddle sore cream being used to explain away a positive test for a corticosteroid in the 1999 Tour de France.
Armstrong has had discussions with USADA over the past year about speaking under oath, but those have come to nothing. He has said he would be prepared to speak before the independent commission UCI president Brian Cookson is setting up, but has made it clear he does not want USADA involved.
Also speaking at the seminar today was former US Postal Service rider, Steffen Kjærgaard, who was a team-mate of Armstrong’s on the 2000 and 2001 editions of the Tour de France and last year admitted to doping.
Tygart did not deny that Kjærgaard might be one of the witnesses called to testify against Johan Bruyneel when the former US Postal Service team manager’s arbitration hearing relating to the charges USADA brought against him in June last year begins in London next week.
In recent weeks, Armstrong has been on what has been described as a “Tour of Redemption,” looking to build bridges with some of those forced out of the sport after speaking out against his doping such as his former masseuse, Emma O’Reilly as well as ex-pro cyclists Christophe Bassons and Filippo Simeoni.
Some including Betsy Andreu, who posted a link to the VG Nett article on Facebook and whose husband Frankie rode alongside Armstrong at both Motorola and US Postal Service, have questioned Armstrong’s motives for his apparent contrition.
In an article published on Crankpunk last week, she said Armstrong was still acting out of self-interest and trying to manipulate the situation to his advantage.
“Nothing has changed with Lance," she maintained. "He is still desperately trying to control the narrative. The problem for him is not many are listening.”
She noted that Armstrong has a history of contacting people ahead of key legal dates, noting that before she and her husband were due to give depositions in the SCA case in October 2005, Armstrong called his former team-mate for the first time in two years.
His meeting with O’Reilly in October came just days before an important hearing relating to the whistleblower case brought by Floyd Landis, which the US government has joined.
Mrs Andreu says she believes his latest episodes of reaching out to the likes of Bassons and Simeoni are influenced by two dates that are looming – another court appointment in the whistleblower case, and Bruyneel’s arbitration hearing.
Her Crankpunk article concluded: “A pathological liar doesn’t all of the sudden become a truth teller. Maybe he just switches from telling one big lie to a lot of little lies.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.