SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- After years of fiercely denying the allegations against him, former cyclist Lance Armstrong has, for the first time, publicly admitted to doping.
Armstrong ended a decade of speculation by admitting he used performance enhancing drugs to win every single one of his seven Tour de France titles.
The former cyclist, who was stripped of his titles late last year, made the confession in an interview with US television host Oprah Winfrey.
Armstrong admitted covering up his use of drugs but says there was a culture of doping among cyclists.
His career has gone through extraordinary highs and lows. His professional career started with limited success in the early 1990s. Then in 1996, at the age of 25, Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
But he overcame the illness in a spectacular fashion, winning the 1999 Tour de France.
But it was just the beginning. Armstrong went on to win every year, from 1999 to 2005; a seven year winning streak that set a new Tour de France record.
In 2005, just weeks after he announced he would retire, a French newspaper said it had evidence Armstrong was guilty of doping.
The allegations subsided after he retired.
But when he announced his intention to return in 2009, those allegations came back with force.
In October 2012 the US anti-doping agency said it had "overwhelming" evidence against Armstrong. He was stripped of all his Tour de France titles.
So, how much damage has been done to the world of cycling? And what's next for Lance Armstrong and the sport?
To discuss this, Inside Story with presenter Ghida Fakhry is joined by guests: Michele Verroken, the director of Sporting Integrity Limited, a consultancy on integrity matters including doping in sports; Marty MacDonald, a former cycling team owner and manager, who has managed Tour de France level athletes; and Fred Dryer, a freelance journalist and former editor at Velonews Cycle Magazine.
Armstrong acknowledged his admission was probably "too late" for most people. "I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times. It wasn't as if I just said no."
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – As reported by Shafaqna on 5th January 2013, disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong finally decided to admit he is guilty of drug use and that he cheated the world to win seven Tour de France titles. In October 2012, Armstrong was accused of the longest and most sophisticated doping programme that the world of sport has ever witnessed.
It is now confirmed that as from August 1998 all Armstrong’s results were wiped off from the record books, including his seven Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005. He was also banned from cycling for life. Since quitting cycling, Armstrong wanted to compete in triathlons events, but those competitions are sanctioned by organisations that follow the World Anti-Doping Code, under which Armstrong received his lifetime ban. The World Anti-doping Code says that, an athlete might be eligible for a reduced punishment if he fully confesses and details how he doped, who helped him dope and how he got away with doping. The drug cheat American, Armstrong, is hoping to reach a deal with anti-doping bosses in order to be able to compete in future Triathlon events.
In an interview with American TV programme, Armstrong said it was "not possible" to win the gruelling race so many times without doping. He confessed that he doped during all seven Tour victories from 1999 to 2005, using blood-boosting agent EPO; blood doping; testosterone, cortisone or human growth hormone. He added "My cocktail was EPO, transfusions and testosterone. I made my decisions. They're my mistake. And I'm sitting here today to acknowledge that and to say I'm sorry for that." Armstrong also mentioned that his drug use began in the "mid-90s".
"I suppose earlier in my career there was cortisone and then the EPO generation began," he said. At the same time, he did not believe what he was doing was cheating! "I looked up the definition of cheat. The definition of cheat is to gain an advantage over a rival or foe," Armstrong said. "I didn't do that. I viewed it as a level playing field." Armstrong acknowledged his admission was probably "too late" for most people. "I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times. It wasn't as if I just said no."
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Thirteen years after he stood on the podium in Sydney, Lance Armstrong has been stripped of the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Olympics because of his involvement in doping.
The International Olympic Committee sent a letter to Armstrong on Wednesday night asking him to return the medal, just as it said it planned to do last month.
The IOC executive board discussed revoking the medal in December, but delayed a decision until cycling body UCI formally notified Armstrong he had been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and all results since 1998. He then had 21 days to appeal.
Now that the deadline has expired, the IOC decided to take the medal away. The letter to Armstrong was also sent to the U.S. Olympic Committee, which would collect the medal.
“Having had confirmation from UCI that Armstrong has not appealed the decision to disqualify him from Sydney, we have written to him to ask for the return of the bronze medal,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams told the AP. “We have also written to USOC to inform them of the decision.”
The move was confirmed on the same day that Armstrong’s admission of using performance-enhancing drugs — after years of denials — is to be broadcast in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. The timing of the IOC move, however, was not related to the TV interview.
Two months after winning his second Tour de France title in 2000, Armstrong took bronze in Sydney in the road time trial behind winner and U.S. Postal Service teammate Vyacheslav Ekimov of Russia and Jan Ullrich of Germany.
The IOC opened a disciplinary case in November after a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report detailed widespread doping by Armstrong and his teammates. The report called it the most sophisticated doping program in sports.
The IOC will not reallocate Armstrong’s bronze medal, just as the UCI decided not to declare any winners for the Tour titles once held by the American. Spanish rider Abraham Olano Manzano, who finished fourth in Sydney, will not be upgraded and the bronze medal placing will be left vacant in Olympic records.
In August, the IOC stripped Tyler Hamilton, a former Armstrong teammate, of his time-trial gold medal from the 2004 Athens Olympics after he admitted to doping. In that case, Ekimov was upgraded to gold.
The IOC is also investigating Levi Leipheimer, a former Armstrong teammate who won the time-trial bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games. The American confessed to doping as part of his testimony against Armstrong in the USADA case.
The IOC is looking into the details of Leipheimer’s admitted doping, including when the cheating took place, before moving to strip his medal. Finishing fourth behind Leipheimer in 2008 was Alberto Contador, the Spaniard who was stripped of the 2010 Tour de France title after testing positive for clenbuterol.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Lance Armstrong won’t go down alone.
The disgraced cyclist, who was labelled the kingpin of a long-running doping scheme, has reportedly owned up to cheating and is ready to point the finger at others who may have facilitated or shielded it.
Mr. Armstrong sat down for an interview Monday with Oprah Winfrey which stretched on so long it will air over two episodes.
“It was surprising to me. I would say that for myself, my team, all of us in the room, we were mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers,” she told CBS Tuesday morning, noting that she had researched and prepared 112 questions.
“I feel that he answered the questions in a way that [suggested] he was ready. I didn’t get all the questions asked, but I think the most important questions and the answers that people around the world had been waiting to hear were answered. And certainly, answered, I can only say I was satisfied by the answers.”
The public is expected to get its first glimpse of the material Thursday evening, with the remainder to air Friday, but leaks began to emerge almost immediately.
The Associated Press reported that Mr. Armstrong had confessed using drugs to win the Tour de France a record seven times. The news will not surprise anyone who has read the enormous case built against him by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, but his admission is a stunning turn after more than a decade of court battles and bitter denials.
And it appears that he is willing to go well beyond an admission that he cheated. Although he has apparently ruled out accusing other riders, the New York Times is reporting that he is willing to testify against top officials in cycling’s governing body and the investors who owned the United States Postal Service-sponsored team on which he rode for most of his victories.
Any exposé by Mr. Armstrong of corruption at the top level of the Union Cycliste Internationale, which oversees the sport, would be explosive. The cyclist once made a large cash payment to the UCI and there have long been allegations that the star got special treatment. Former Postal Service riders have testified that their team seemed to have advance knowledge of ostensibly surprise doping tests. And it was the passing of so many tests that formed the foundation of his public defence for years.
After the USADA material was made public UCI President Pat McQuaid said that Armstrong had “no place in cycling.” But critics noted that his predecessor, Hein Verbruggen, who presided over the sport during the Armstrong era, remained at the organization, untouched by the scandal. In a statement Tuesday, the UCI said it would encourage Mr. Armstrong to come clean but declined further comment until they had seen the interview.
It’s unclear whether his willingness to give evidence extends to the case against his former team manager, Johan Bruyneel. A former pro who headed all of Mr. Armstrong’s winning Tour de France teams, he is facing his own accusations from USADA. He chose to fight the allegations and his arbitration hearing, which was to start in November, has been delayed for unexplained reasons. His website continues to tout Mr. Armtrong’s Tour victories but his blog has not been updated since a post in August in which he denounced USADA’s “campaign against” his former rider.
The possibility that Mr. Armstrong would give evidence against his former team’s owners comes as the United States Justice Department weighs whether to join a whistle-blower suit. The action was filed by former Postal Service rider Floyd Landis, who alleges the team defrauded the government by using drugs, in violation of the sponsorship contract. Under whistle-blower legislation, the penalty can rise to triple the amount of government funding, which would total more than $100-million.
That Justice Department decision must be made by Thursday, the same day the interview is to air, and several U.S. media outlets are reporting that Mr. Armstrong is willing to testify and repay part of the money he earned riding for the team.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- The Lance Armstrong interview in which the disgraced former cyclist will deal with the doping revelations that led to a lifetime ban from sport and the stripping of his seven Tour de France titles will be streamed live around the world as well as broadcast on television in the United States.
The 90-minute special will air next Thursday at 9pm eastern time in the US, or 2am in the UK, and will be streamed on Oprah.com at the same time. It is the first time Armstrong has given an interview since he lost his titles, was dropped by sponsors and pilloried by the public for his part in what the US Anti-Doping Agency called the "most sophisticated doping programme that sport has ever seen".
According to reports, he also came under pressure from the board of Livestrong – the charity he founded to support cancer sufferers and from which he stood down as chairman in October – to speak publicly.
The Oprah Winfrey Network, which will show the programme, is a joint venture between Winfrey's Harpo Productions and Discovery Channel. Discovery Channel was the headline sponsor of Armstrong's team between 2004 and 2007.
It was the network's logo that was displayed on his shirt when he won his seventh Tour in 2005, when rumours had been swirling around his team for at least three years, and said it was a victory over "the people that don't believe in cycling, the cynics and the sceptics".
Discovery was a vocal supporter of Armstrong and one of the last sponsors to distance itself from the Texan once damning evidence emerged.
Usada revealed how Armstrong was accused by a string of witnesses and former team-mates of systematic doping throughout his career and banned him for life, a decision later ratified by the World Anti-Doping Agency and world cycling's governing body, the UCI.
In a statement announcing the programme, Winfrey's network said she would "speak exclusively with Lance Armstrong in his first no-holds-barred interview" at his home in Austin, Texas. "Armstrong will address the alleged doping scandal, years of accusations of cheating, and charges of lying about the use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout his storied cycling career," it said.
Social media networks immediately began speculating on whether Armstrong would use the programme as a platform to come clean or to further defend himself in the face of all available evidence. Armstrong had previously told a US court tribunal that he had never used performance-enhancing drugs, opening up the possibility that he could perjure himself if he now admitted doping.
Many believe that Winfrey will give Armstrong an easy ride, recalling her interview with Marion Jones in which the disgraced American sprinter claimed she took performance-enhancing drugs unintentionally in the wake of the Balco scandal.
Kathy LeMond, wife of the American Tour de France winner Greg, tweeted: "@Oprah I hope you get educated before the interview. I know people that can help you."
A spokeswoman for the Oprah show said Armstrong was not being paid to appear and that Winfrey was free to ask him any question she wanted.
She said in an email: "No payment for the interview. No editorial control, no question is off limits." The producers are unlikely to release the transcript of the show before it is screened.
Earlier on Tuesday, the US current affairs programme 60 Minutes featured an interview with the Usada chief executive, Travis Tygart, in which he claimed that Armstrong offered the agency a donation of $250,000 in 2004, which it turned down. Tygart also repeated his view that it was "totally inappropriate" that Armstrong made donations totalling more than $100,000 to the UCI around the same period.
In October 2012, Armstrong was accused of the longest and most sophisticated doping programme that the world of sport has ever witnessed.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong finally decided to admit he is guilty of drug use and that he cheated the world to win seven Tour de France titles. In October 2012, Armstrong was accused of the longest and most sophisticated doping programme that the world of sport has ever witnessed. It is reported that he 41 year old has informed anti-doping authorities that he is ready to publicly admit his guilt. For more than a decade Armstrong denied any involvement with drugs.
As from August 1998 all Armstrong’s results were wiped off from the record books, including his seven Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005. He was also banned from cycling for life. The New York Times said that Armstrong has been in discussions with the United States Anti-Doping Agency and met the agency’s chief executive, Travis Tygart, in an effort to mitigate the lifetime ban he received for leading a doping programme on his Tour-winning teams. Armstrong is also planning to meet David Howman, the director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Since quitting cycling, Armstrong wanted to compete in triathlons events, but those competitions are sanctioned by organisations that follow the World Anti-Doping Code, under which Armstrong received his lifetime ban. The World Anti-doping Code says that, an athlete might be eligible for a reduced punishment if he fully confesses and details how he doped, who helped him dope and how he got away with doping. The drug cheat American, Armstrong, is hoping to reach a deal with anti-doping bosses in order to be able to compete in future Triathlon events.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)– The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will investigate Lance Armstrong's 2000 Olympics bronze medal after the American was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in the biggest doping scandal to hit the sport.
"The IOC will now immediately start the process concerning the involvement of Lance Armstrong, other riders and particularly their entourages with respect to the Olympic Games and their future involvement with the Games," an IOC official told Reuters on Thursday.
Armstrong, who won a time trial medal at the Sydney Games, was stripped of his 1999-2005 Tour victories last month when the International Cycling Union (UCI) ratified a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) decision to erase his results from August, 1998.
A USADA report that included testimony from several former team mates against him and themselves, called it the "most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen".
Apart from stripping Armstrong's titles, the UCI also said it was setting up an independent commission to investigate allegations made against the UCI over the Armstrong affair.
"The IOC has taken note of the UCI's decision and welcomes all measures that will shed light on the full extent of this episode and allow the sport to reform and to move forward," the IOC official said.
"We await the findings of the independent commission which will look into the UCI's role, and the recommendations they will make to ensure a healthy future for cycling."
Armstrong, who overcame cancer to dominate the sport, has always denied doping and maintains he never failed a drugs test.
The IOC has an eight-year statute of limitation for changing Olympic results and stripping medals from doping offenders but IOC vice-president Thomas Bach hinted last month there could be ways around the time limit in this case.
"USADA's report has given some pointers that the statute of limitation was interrupted through Lance Armstrong lying about doping," Bach, a lawyer who heads the IOC's juridical commission told Reuters in an interview.
"We will have to examine to see if this is a way we can follow according to Swiss law."
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The International Cycling Union has upheld the lifetime ban given to Lance Armstrong by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and has agreed to strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France championships. The head of the UCI, Patrick McQuaid, said at a press conference today that, "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling" and "deserves to be forgotten."
The USADA released a final report on their investigation of Armstrong earlier this month, accusing him of running "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen." Their findings were based on eyewitness testimony from 26 people including 11 of his former teammates who all admitted to being a part of the doping program and fingering Armstrong as the ring leader. The USADA recommended that Armstrong be banned for life and stripped of his titles. Today's ruling affirms that decision for all international races, though Armstrong had previously announced that he would no longer challenge the accusations made against him through legal channels.
Armstrong continues to insist that he never broke the rules and that he has never failed a random drug test, though there have been some accusations that he did fail some drug tests and worked to cover them up. No decision has been made about whether to award his titles to another rider, but the UCI will hold another meeting on Friday to discuss that and other issues related to the banning, such as seeking the return of prize money.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Floyd Landis, the cyclist who had denied doping for years despite being stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for failing a drug test, went to a lunch meeting in April 2010 with the director of the Tour of California cycling race.
As they sat down at a table at the Farm of Beverly Hills restaurant in Los Angeles, Landis placed a tape recorder between them and pressed record.
Landis finally wanted to tell the truth: He had doped through most of his professional career. He was recording his confessions so he would later have proof that he had blown the whistle on the sport.
“How do you expect people to believe you when you lied for so long?” Andrew Messick, the race director, asked Landis. “Have you told your mother? Have you told Travis Tygart?”
Landis, raised as a Mennonite, said he had not yet told his mother. Nor had he told Tygart, the chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, with whom he had clashed for more than two years as Landis publicly fought his doping case.
But, Landis said, it was time.
“Lance Armstrong never came up,” Messick said in an interview last week. “But he did make a comment on the Mafia. He said, When you’re in the Mafia and you get caught and go to jail, you keep your mouth shut, and the organization takes care of your family. In cycling, you’re expected to keep your mouth shut when you test positive, but you become an outcast. Everyone just turns their back on you.”
Antidoping officials on multiple continents had pursued Armstrong for years, in often quixotic efforts that died at the wall of silence his loyal teammates built around him as the sport’s global king. Armstrong kept the dark side of his athletic success quiet, investigators and cyclists said, by using guile and arm-twisting tactics that put fear in those who might cross him.
But the lunch conversation between Landis and Messick would eventually be seen as the first significant crack in Armstrong’s gilded foundation, a critical turning point in antidoping officials’ quest to penetrate the code of secrecy that endured in cycling.
It set in motion a series of events that led to the stark revelation that Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner, and his United States Postal Service team were engaged in what antidoping officials called the most sophisticated doping program in history — one covered up by cyclists who banded together to protect themselves, one another and the ugly, deceitful underbelly of the sport.
Armstrong, who vehemently denies ever doping, in August stopped fighting the charges the antidoping agency brought against him. Last week, in the wake of antidoping officials’making public their evidence in the case, Armstrong stepped down as the chairman of his cancer foundation and lost nearly all his endorsements — a decline so unceremonious and severe that a precedent in recent sports history is elusive.
On Monday, cycling’s world governing body is expected to announce whether it will appeal the antidoping agency’s ruling to bar Armstrong for life from Olympic sports, a decision Armstrong has called unfair and flawed. If the group does not appeal, Tour de France organizers will officially strip Armstrong of his Tour titles.
Interviews with more than a dozen riders, their wives, lawyers involved in the case, antidoping officials and team executives revealed that Armstrong’s undoing was the culmination of an inquiry that played out over more than two years — but that drastically turned over the course of several weeks this spring as more and more cyclists contributed their own damning stories to the investigation.
At that point, antidoping officials hardly had an airtight case. Tygart was hurriedly approaching cyclists from Armstrong’s United States Postal Service teams.
“Look, the system of doping in the sport is coming down, and all the riders, including Lance Armstrong, are going to be given an opportunity to get on the lifeboat,” he told them. “Are you on it?”
Rider after rider asked, “Am I going to be the only one?”
It would take months for them to find out.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) —. It's not so much that the Lance Armstrong story was too good to be true. Now it might just be too good to let go.
Even after investigators unveiled a scathing report portraying him as an unrepentant drug cheat, Armstrong continues to confound his public with rivaling images: a rapacious, win-at-all-costs athlete or a hero who came back from cancer.
We've all heard his story before: An up-and-coming cyclist gets stricken with testicular cancer at age 25. He's given less than a 50 percent chance of surviving. Instead, he fights it off and comes back stronger. He wins the Tour de France seven times. Hobnobs with presidents. Dates a rock star and pretty much becomes one himself. Uses his fame and success to raise millions to promote cancer awareness.
Even if it all really is the impossible fairy tale it sounds like — one built on a brittle mountain of drugs, deception and arm-twisting — it's the narrative the world has happily listened to for nearly 15 years.
More than 1,000 pages of finely detailed evidence from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency are now in the open, supporting its decision to ban Armstrong for life from cycling and order his titles stripped for using performance-enhancing drugs. Yet while other sports stars who have faced drug-induced downfalls — Marion Jones, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens — fade from memory or become objects of scorn, Armstrong keeps rolling along.
You can see it in social media. Sure, negative comments dot the landscape — people have put an "X'' through the "v'' on their Livestrong wristbands to make it read "Lie strong". But the tributes also keep coming: a few dozen new posts on a Facebook page titled "Lance Armstrong Supporters," either vilify USADA or tell Armstrong they've got his back.
You can see it from the sponsors — Nike is one example — that are sticking with Armstrong. You can see it in the donations to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which have spiked since August, when Armstrong announced he wouldn't fight the doping charges.
And it also shows in the way Armstrong steadfastly goes about his business. On Thursday, the day after the USADA report came out, he was at his foundation headquarters in Austin, Texas, looking for a place to hang a picture. On Friday, he linked to his Twitter account a shiny new slide show touting the top 15 things his foundation has accomplished since it was founded, 15 years ago this month. Star-studded anniversary celebrations are in the works.
"His whole story kind of falls into the category of, sometimes good people do bad things, or, conversely, sometimes bad people do good things," said Stan Teitelbaum, author of "Athletes Who Indulge Their Dark Side." ''In a way, it's the 'Whatever Syndrome.' There used to be a strong sense of indignation at things like this. How could my hero be this way? But when we the people, we the public, get disillusioned so many times, we shrug our shoulders and we just say, 'Whatever.'"
But because of the cause Armstrong represents, the hope he's given and the money he's raised, it could be more than that.
His story, to say nothing of those 84 million yellow Livestrong wristbands he's sold, speak to a larger truth: A good number of the more than 25 million people fighting cancer worldwide look for inspiration to gain the strength to keep going. Armstrong showed them it could be done, while raising more than $500 million to help their cause.
His critics give him credit for raising the money but say he did a disservice to cancer patients by giving them false hope. One takeaway from the report could be that it really does take more than will, moxie and hard work — which is all Armstrong said he needed — to beat cancer and return better than ever.
"The problem believers are facing now is that the thing that made him remarkable, the thing that made them love him, is that he always won," said Daniel Coyle, author of "Lance Armstrong's War" and "The Secret Race," which he wrote with Tyler Hamilton, a former teammate and witness against Armstrong.
"Now, we're getting an accurate X-ray of how that happened and people have a choice. They can look at these facts and decide it was too good to be true. Or close their eyes and keep believing."
Gregory De Respino, whose wife, Gail, died of cancer in 2009, is among the legion of Armstrong fans who aren't as interested in USADA's version of the truth. De Respino said he pays virtually no attention to news of the investigation, the testimony or the evidence because, he says, "you don't get anywhere damning people for their past."
"My opinion of him as a man has not changed. His pro career is past and that's where it stays for me," said De Respino, who lives in the New York City area and gives regularly to Livestrong. "He's a cancer survivor and his entire story revolves forward from that. If you want to take one piece of his life and make that the only story, that's your choice. But I think that's one reason he chose not to fight anymore. He's got bigger fish to fry. He's got a foundation that needs his full-time attention."
The fervent support the 41-year-old Armstrong still engenders, in the wake of such damning facts and testimony from nearly a dozen ex-teammates, is a sign of the emotion his story still holds. That's an element missing from the stories of Jones, Bonds, Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and others who've been tainted by the cloud of performance-enhancing drugs.
None of them overcame what Armstrong did.www.shafaqna.com/English