Armstrong may be manoeuvring for his greatest break
CYCLING:During his battle with the US Anti-Doping Agency last year, Lance Armstrong went to extreme lengths to disparage the agency, a quasi-governmental organisation charged with policing banned drug use in Olympic sports.
He called the organisation a kangaroo court that flagrantly violated the constitution and deceitfully used taxpayer dollars to conduct witch hunts. He called its chief executive, Travis Tygart, an anti-doping zealot with a vendetta against him, even as the agency released more than 1,000 pages of evidence in October laying out the case that Armstrong had doped and had been a part of a sophisticated doping scheme on his cycling teams.
The agency said Armstrong, a cancer survivor who had inspired millions fighting the disease, lied when he said he had never doped. It also said he destroyed the lives of people in cycling who dared to say he had used banned drugs.
Yet within the last month, Armstrong’s representatives reached out to Tygart to arrange a meeting between Armstrong and the agency. The goal of that meeting was to find out if a confession could mitigate Armstrong’s lifetime ban from Olympic sports, according to several people with knowledge of the situation. Those people did not want their names published because it would jeopardise their access to sensitive information on the matter.
Tygart welcomed the invitation, and that meeting occurred last month, said one person familiar with the situation. In the end, no matter how much Tygart and Armstrong had fought each other, they still need each other.
But Tim Herman, Armstrong’s Austin, Texas-based lawyer, said talks with Tygart and the anti-doping agency are not on the table. Armstrong has not met with Tygart, Herman said. Armstrong (41) would like to resume competing in triathlons and running events that are sanctioned by organisations that follow the World Anti-Doping Code. Tygart wants to know how Armstrong so skillfully eluded testing positive for banned drugs for nearly a decade.
Tygart, who declined to comment, has said in the past he is interested in hearing from athletes who doped because they could lead him to the coaches, agents, doctors, team owners or other sports personnel who organised or encouraged doping.
“Mr Armstrong did not act alone,” the anti-doping agency wrote in its report on Armstrong. “He acted with a small army of enablers, including doping doctors, drug smugglers and others within the sport and on his team.”
If Tygart is able to gather incriminating information about those people and build cases against them that could bar them from sports, he could deal a serious blow to the doping that has been enmeshed in the culture of cycling for more than 100 years.