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.


Chelsea face Manchester United in FA Cup final as Olivier Giroud sinks Southampton

Updated 8 min 6 sec ago
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Chelsea face Manchester United in FA Cup final as Olivier Giroud sinks Southampton

London: Chelsea booked an FA Cup final showdown with Manchester United as Olivier Giroud tormented Southampton again with a sublime strike in Sunday’s 2-0 win at Wembley.
Giroud has made a habit of scoring against Southampton and the France forward was their nemesis in a one-sided semifinal.
Opting to select Giroud instead of Alvaro Morata proved a shrewd move by Chelsea manager Antonio Conte as the former Arsenal star produced a tremendous piece of skill to break the deadlock early in the second half.
Giroud has feasted on Southampton this season, scoring twice to spark Chelsea’s 3-2 win last weekend and also netting a late equalizer against them for Arsenal in December.
His fourth goal for Chelsea since his January signing was followed by a late header from substitute Morata, setting up a heavyweight final against United at Wembley on May 19.
That will be Chelsea’s last chance to win major silverware at the end of a troubled season.
“The most important thing is to reach the final. This is the second FA Cup final in a row for us. I’m delighted for our fans,” Conte said.
“For sure, Olivier has been a good signing for us. I needed a player like him, strong physically, to hold the ball up.
“Today I decided to start with Olivier because I knew we were playing against three strong central defenders, but when Morata came on the impact was impressive as well.”
Chelsea’s 13th FA Cup final appearance will be a repeat of the 2007 showpiece, when Jose Mourinho’s men won 1-0.
The Blues, back in the final after losing to Arsenal in May, last won the competition in 2012 and are bidding to lift the trophy for the eighth time.
Winning the FA Cup might not be enough to convince either Conte or Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich that their two-year partnership should be extended.
Conte has spent much of the season complaining about Chelsea’s failure to back his transfer plans, while several of his players are believed to be unhappy with his demanding training sessions and intense personality.
The Blues face a tough task to qualify for the Champions League via a top-four finish in the Premier League as they trail fourth-placed Tottenham by five points.
Against that backdrop, winning the Cup would at least provide an uplifting conclusion to a frustrating campaign.
For Southampton, the focus returns to their desperate battle to avoid relegation, with just four games left to climb out of the bottom three.
Saints boss Mark Hughes claimed the crucial moment was the officials’ refusal to use the video assistant referee when Chelsea keeper Willy Caballero may have dropped the ball over the line under pressure from Charlie Austin.
“We are disappointed with the officials. Their goalkeeper has thrown the ball into the back of the net,” Hughes complained.
“If ever there was a case for VAR to review, that was the moment. Why it wasn’t referred I’ve no idea.”
Giroud was warming to the task of giving Southampton another headache and he went close to breaking the deadlock with an acrobatic volley before half-time.
Chelsea’s dominance was finally rewarded in the 46th minute.
Cesc Fabregas lofted a pass toward Eden Hazard and he controlled brilliantly in mid-air before slipping the ball through to Giroud.
There was still work for Giroud to do and he side-stepped three defenders with surprising grace, his nimble footwork giving him just enough space to slot home from close range.
After Caballero got away with his sloppy handling, Austin appealed in vain for a penalty when Giroud left his arm out to block the forward’s header.
But it was too little, too late and Morata came off the bench to wrap up the win with just his third goal in his last 19 appearances.
Morata, who has failed to impress since his move from Real Madrid last year, was furious after being hauled off at Burnley.
Just days later, he was all smiles when he nodded home from Cesar Azpilicueta’s 82nd-minute cross.