What Lance Armstrong, And The USADA, Might Gain From A Confession
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
After more than a decade of denying allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs, seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is considering a public confession. That's according to The New York Times, which cites several people with direct knowledge of the situation. The Times says Armstrong is weighing a doping confession if, in return, anti-doping officials would reverse his lifetime ban from competitive sports.
New York Times reporter Juliet Macur wrote the story and she joins me now here in the studio. Thanks for coming in.
JULIET MACUR: No problem.
BLOCK: What more can you tell us to explain why Lance Armstrong would consider admitting that he doped now, after he's denied it for so many years?
MACUR: Yes, he's denied it for more than a decade. What he wants to do is compete again. He's been competing since he was a teenager in triathlons and basically has defined himself as an athlete. He's been banned for life from all Olympic sports and a lot of people have the misconception that, that means he can't compete in the Olympics anymore - only.
But, while that is true, it also means he can't compete in any sport that follows the World Anti-Doping Code. So the New York City Marathon, the 10K in your local hometown, all these smaller races that he can't compete in now - including triathlons, which was his second coming of a professional career - he can't do that either.
BLOCK: Now, when you say he's considering this confession, what active steps has he taken that lead people to think that he may be considering doing this?
MACUR: Well, our sources are saying that his representatives have reached out to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to ask them to have a meeting, to sit down and discuss the possibility of Lance coming forward in exchange for his lifetime ban being reduced or nullified completely, which I'm not sure would be possible. But they met last month. Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, met with Lance and a bunch of their representatives to discuss those possibilities.
BLOCK: It's a really puzzling thing to think about, Juliet, because Lance Armstrong has testified under oath that he hasn't doped. He has sworn up and down that he never doped. This would undo all of that and conceivably open him up to charges of perjury, wouldn't it?
MACUR: Those are the huge obstacles that he's facing. There are three civil lawsuits that he is looking at currently and many more to come probably. But the biggest one is the federal whistleblower lawsuit, which was filed by Floyd Landis, one of his former teammates in 2010, claiming that Lance and some other officials on the U.S. Postal Service Team defrauded the government by basically using taxpayer dollars to fund their doping program.
And the government right now is mulling whether to join that lawsuit. And if they do, there's a good chance that they will win it. So Lance is waiting to hear whether the government will join the lawsuit as a plaintiff.
BLOCK: What has the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, USADA, said to you about whether they will entertain this notion, of a Lance Armstrong confession?
MACUR: They have not commented on our stories for the weekend. But we're hearing that they're certainly entertaining the hopes that Lance will come forward. What's in it for them is that they could get the information from Lance on how he skirted the doping rules for so long.
It's really amazing to have an athlete get away with all of the doping that he was doing for more than 10 years, with all of these people following this code of silence in cycling, without him getting caught. So they really want to know how he did it.
BLOCK: But USADA already put out a 1,000-page report. They have the testimony from many, many of his teammates. Do they really feel that there are things they don't know that Lance Armstrong could tell them?
MACUR: Even though 11 of Lance Armstrong's teammates came forward to give information about the case, Lance Armstrong knows much more than all of those people combined. He basically was the most powerful person in the sport for more than a decade. And so, he would be able to tell them which people at a very, very high level were involved.
And the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, in turn, would love to get that information. Because not only do they want Lance Armstrong to come forward, but they want to know if there is any corruption in the sport and Lance can help them do that.
BLOCK: Juliet Macur, thanks very much.
MACUR: Thanks for having me.
BLOCK: That's New York Times reporter Juliet Macur. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.