Lance Armstrong is considering admitting he used steroids en route to winning seven Tour de France titles and becoming one of the most beloved American athletes in generations, according to a new report. Since that career peak, Armstrong was stripped of those titles and saw his reputation slide from heroic to disgraceful for his refusal to acknowledge damning doping evidence against him.
Now, however, the cyclist may be mulling reversing himself in effort to restore his athletic eligibility and take pressure off the Livestrong charity he founded. The New York Times reported that Armstrong, 41, has been under pressure from people around him to confess and move on from the situation, which saw public opinion quickly turn against him.
Citing anonymous sources, the Times noted that Armstrong has met with Travis Tygart, chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, and David Howman, the director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency, to discuss a reversal of his lifetime ban that came when Armstrong was accused of acting as a ringleader of sorts when it came to the use of performance enhancing drugs on his Tour teams.
Many of Armstrong’s former teammates have publicly admonished him for cheating and then trying to cover it up when questioned.
A possible obstacle to the confession is a federal whistle-blower case that's implicating Armstrong and his United States Postal Service teammates for “defrauding the government by allowing doping on the squad when the team’s contract with the Postal Service clearly stated that any doping would constitute default of their agreement,” according to the Times. An admission could expose Armstrong to perjury charges.
Tim Herman, Armstrong’s attorney, told the Associated Press he had no knowledge of any forthcoming admission.
“When, and if, Lance has something to say, there won’t be any secret about it,” Herman said when questioned about the Times report. “He’s doing okay for a guy that has had his livelihood and his life torn from him, but he’s very strong.”
The former Tour de France winner also faces the possibility of losing millions of dollars if he admits his guilt. Armstrong is being sued by the Sunday Times, a British newspaper that previously paid him $500,000 in a libel suit, but a larger financial concern could arise if the U.S. Department of Justice decides to join the federal whistle-blower lawsuit of ex-USPS teammate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France win after being caught doping.
If the Justice Department joins that case, Landis could collect up to 30 percent of any money won in the case, a number the Times reported could easily be in the millions.
Armstrong recently stepped away from his involvement with Livestrong, but he irked critics by tweeting a picture of himself lying on a couch beneath the seven yellow jerseys that he received for winning the Tour de France races.