Armstrong: Career was ‘one big lie’

Updated 18 January 2013
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Armstrong: Career was ‘one big lie’

LOS ANGELES: Lance Armstrong was yesterday urged to make a full confession about the scale and scope of his doping activities, after publicly admitting that his record seven Tour de France wins were fuelled by banned drugs.
Armstrong has finally admitted that his seven Tour de France wins were fueled by a frightening cocktail of banned drugs, in one of the most sensational confessions of cheating in the history of sport.
The 41-year-old on Thursday told talk show host Oprah Winfrey in his first interview since being stripped of his record yellow jersey haul and banned for life that his career was a sham in which he bullied and attacked anyone who doubted him.
“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... I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times,” Armstrong said, describing himself as “flawed.” His confession strips bare the legend of the cancer survivor turned champion that inspired millions across the world and made the Texan rider cycling’s first global superstar, popularizing the sport beyond its European heartland.
The former US Postal Service team leader admitted to Winfrey that the “mythic, perfect story... wasn’t true,” confirming mounting doubts about his performances that came to a head last October in a devastating US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) dossier.
Reaction to his belated confession was swift, with Travis Tygart, the tenacious USADA chief who exposed Armstrong’s lies with damning eyewitness testimony from his former teammates, calling it “a small step in the right direction.”
Yet Tygart was still guarded, as calls persisted for Armstrong to go further than the terse “yes” answers that he gave about whether he took the blood-booster erythropotein (EPO), blood transfusions, testosterone and human growth hormone.
“If he is sincere in his desire to correct his past mistakes, he will testify under oath about the full extent of his doping activities,” Tygart said.
Cycling’s embattled world governing body, which has been under pressure to say how Armstrong was able to evade detection for so long, called the admissions “disturbing” but said they could yet help lift the specter of doping that clouds the sport.
International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid said it was “an important step forward on the long road to repairing the damage that has been caused to cycling and to restoring confidence in the sport.” But his counterpart at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), John Fahey, said Armstrong revealed “nothing new” and had merely affirmed what USADA had outlined in the dossier that sealed his downfall.
The author and journalist David Walsh, who was sued by Armstrong for alleging that he doped, said “it felt good to hear him admit to doping” but also reflected that he was still evasive and questions still went unanswered.
Armstrong confirmed details outlined by USADA such as the existence of the shadowy courier known as “Motoman” who delivered EPO to riders.
But he took issue with other claims, saying he did not believe the doping program on the US Postal Service team was the biggest in the history of sport and could not compare to the state-sponsored scheme in the former East Germany.
He also denied that the UCI covered up a positive drug test from the 2001 Tour of Switzerland and denied using banned drugs when he returned from retirement and raced in the 2009 and 2010 Tours de France.
Armstrong said he justified his actions in the years that he won the Tour from 1999 to 2005 because doping was then part of the culture of the sport — and he did not believe he could capture cycling’s greatest race without illegal assistance.
He did not see it as cheating, he said, adding: “I viewed it as a level playing field.” He described his favored “cocktail” of EPO, blood transfusions and testosterone, recalling that at the time, he told himself that his history of testicular cancer somehow justified it.
“All the fault and all the blame here falls on me,” Armstrong said. “Whether it’s fans or whether it’s the media ... it just gets going and I lost myself in all that.” He admitted he bullied people who did not go along with the “narrative” he constructed but denied forcing teammates to dope.
He said he was worried when accusations against him by former teammate Floyd Landis sparked a US federal criminal probe in 2010. When it ended in 2012 with no charges, Armstrong thought he was “out of the woods.”

Now that USADA have made their case stick, however, Armstrong said he’d be happy to play a role in a “truth and reconciliation” period in cycling.
“If they have it and I’m invited, I’ll be the first man in the door,” Armstrong said, while acknowledging that he had “no moral platform” from which to pursue a clean-up of the sport.


‘We want to make Saudi Arabia proud’: Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

Updated 45 min 1 sec ago
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‘We want to make Saudi Arabia proud’: Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

  • Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday
  • Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious

ROSTOV-ON-DON: “Keeping possession of the ball seems to be the absolute and most important thing, but then when you sometimes find issues in getting the ball into your opponent’s half, you have to find other movements and ways of doing that,” said Oscar Tabarez after watching his lackluster Uruguay rely on a solitary Luis Suarez goal to eliminate Saudi Arabia from the World Cup. 
Tabarez was talking about his own team’s struggles, yet the assessment is considerably more applicable to the Green Falcons, who dominated possession and retained the ball with ease in midfield, yet for the second match running looked absolutely bereft of ideas in the final third. With Uruguay and Russia now on six points, Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday.
The Green Falcons coach Juan Antonio Pizzi confirmed he intends to stay at the helm of the side for the long-haul, yet is only too aware that the potential of this team is being hamstrung by its inability to score. He called it “our weakness”, adding that his side enjoyed “good ball possession, but no effectiveness”. They, he said, did not have the sufficient “weapons or tools” to equalize.
Pizzi’s side have found the net now just twice in their past five games and against Uruguay managed only three shots on target in 90 minutes — two of which came in added time and were so tame they would hardly have troubled the opposition goalkeeper Fernando Muslera had he been relaxing at his far post sipping a drink. In the 5-0 defeat to Russia last week, they failed to muster a single shot on target. 
Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious. One passage of play in the opening exchanges saw Saudi Arabia complete 16 passes untroubled without the ball entering the opposition penalty box. When Uruguay finally won possession, they required only four quick exchanges to find Edinson Cavani on the left wing drilling the ball across the front of goal. 
“I don’t share that assessment,” said Pizzi, when it was put to him that his team was too slow to attack. “We played at the speed that was necessary. We need to be accurate, but if you step up the speed you lose accuracy with your passes. We had control of the game and that was why.”
Striker Mohammed Al-Sahlawi had been the focal point of much criticism from Turki Al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi’s General Sports Authority, after the Russia “fiasco” and was dropped from the side against Uruguay. So too was goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, another who Al-Sheikh name-checked as having been at fault.
Pizzi, asked whether the scathing assessment from his bosses had forced his hand when it came to team selection, calmly dismissed the suggestion. He also ruled out the notion that administrative issues between the players and the country’s football federation had caused unrest in his squad.
“I have a list of 23 players here and they are all available to play. We are here together and pushing in the same direction. 
“I wanted — and still want — to make the Saudi Arabian people feel proud of our energy and the desire we show in matches. Unfortunately we were unable to do that against Russia and will be playing our next match without any hope of progressing. I hope now they will feel a little more proud even though we are out of the World Cup,” he said.