For anti-doping officials, Lance Armstrong’s admission of cheating was only a start.
Now they want him to give details – lots of them – to clean up the sport of cycling.
Armstrong’s much-awaited confession to Oprah Winfrey made for riveting television, but if the disgraced cyclist wants to take things further, it will involve several long days in meetings with anti-doping officials who have very specific questions: Who ran the doping programs, how were they run and who looked the other way?
“He didn’t name names,” World Anti-Doping Agency president John Fahey told the Associated Press in Australia. “He didn’t say who supplied him, what officials were involved.”
In the 90-minute interview Thursday night with Winfrey – the first of two parts broadcast on her OWN network – Armstrong said he started doping in the mid-1990s, using the blood booster EPO, testosterone, cortisone and human growth hormone, as well as engaging in outlawed blood doping and transfusions. The doping regimen, he said, helped him in all seven of his Tour de France wins.
His openness about his own transgressions, however, did not extend to allegations about other people. “I don’t want to accuse anybody,” he said.
But he might have to name names if he wants to gain anything from his confession, at least from anti-doping authorities.
Armstrong has been stripped of all his Tour de France titles and banned for life. A reduction of the ban, perhaps to eight years, could allow him to compete in triathlons in 2020, when he’s 49.
Almost to a person, those in cycling and anti-doping circles believe it will take nothing short of Armstrong turning over everything he knows to stand any chance of cutting a deal to reduce his ban.
“We’re left wanting more. We have to know more about the system,” Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme told the AP. “He couldn’t have done it alone. We have to know who in his entourage helped him to do this.”
U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart, who will have the biggest say about whether Armstrong can return to competition, also called his confession a small step in the right direction.
“But 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,” he said.
Pierre Bordry, head of the French Anti-Doping Agency from 2005-10, said there was nothing to guarantee that Armstrong isn’t still lying and protecting others.
“He’s going in the right direction, but with really small steps,” Bordry said. “He needs to bring his testimony about the environment and the people who helped him. He should do it before an independent commission or before USADA and that would no doubt help the future of cycling.”
It’s doubtful, though, Armstrong could get the same kind of leniency today as he might have had he chosen to cooperate with USADA during its investigation.