Lance Armstrong may confess

  • ESPN.com news services | January 8, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas -- Lance Armstrong, who has strongly denied the doping charges that led to him being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, has told associates he is considering admitting to the use of performance-enhancing drugs, The New York Times reported Friday.

The report cited anonymous sources and said Armstrong was considering a confession to help restore his athletic career in triathlons and running events at age 41. Armstrong has been banned for life from competing in sporting events governed by the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

Armstrong
Armstrong

Yet Armstrong attorney Tim Herman denied Armstrong has reached out to U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart and David Howman, director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Herman told The Associated Press he had no knowledge of Armstrong considering a confession and said: "When, and if, Lance has something to say, there won't be any secret about it."

Howman, reached while vacationing in New Zealand, told ESPN.com he has not been approached by Armstrong or his representatives but added: "I would be open to any discussions. Never say never. … I'm prepared to listen to anybody."

Howman said USADA, not WADA, would have the authority to decide whether to reopen the case if Armstrong were to present new information. "It's [USADA's] issue, although they could come to us to ask for guidance or advice," he said.

Speaking in general terms and not specifically about the Armstrong case, Howman said new information that might merit revisiting a case could pertain to the individual defendant or shed light on others involved in doping offenses. He said there is precedent for cases to be reopened and it would be "nonsensical" to close off that possibility.

The WADA code provides for reduced penalties in instances in which athletes provide "substantial assistance" in resolving other doping cases.

Howman did not want to speculate on the effect of a potential Armstrong confession, saying only, "This is such a significant case with so many issues, and it has had a considerable effect not only on the sport of cycling but the world sports scene itself."

Armstrong trainer Michele Ferrari and former U.S. Postal Service cycling team physician Luis Garcia del Moral did not contest USADA's cases against them and also received lifetime bans, but longtime team director Johan Bruyneel asked for arbitration and his case is still pending.

Evidence that surfaced in USADA's case against Armstrong also prompted an ongoing independent review of the UCI, cycling's international governing body.

Armstrong, who recovered from testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain, won the Tour de France each year from 1999 to 2005. Although he has vehemently denied doping, Armstrong's athletic career crumbled under the weight of a massive report by USADA detailing allegations of drug use by Armstrong and his teammates on his U.S. Postal Service teams.

The report caused Armstrong to lose most of his personal corporate sponsors, and he recently stepped down from the board of Livestrong, the cancer-fighting charity he founded in 1997.

Armstrong is facing other legal hurdles.

The U.S. Department of Justice is considering whether to join a federal whistle-blower lawsuit filed by former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis. A Dallas-based promotions company also has said it wants to recover several million dollars paid to Armstrong in bonuses for winning the Tour de France. The British newspaper The Sunday Times has sued Armstrong to recover $500,000 paid to him to settle a libel lawsuit.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer Bonnie D. Ford and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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