Group wants Armstrong under oath

Oprah ‘riveted,’ but cyclist faces many obstacles

By Associated Press  • 
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A televised confession by Lance Armstrong isn’t enough.

Anti-doping officials want the disgraced cyclist to admit his guilt under oath before considering whether to lift a lifetime ban clouding Armstrong’s future as a competitive athlete. That was seconded by at least one former teammate whom Armstrong pushed aside on his way to the top of the Tour de France podium.

“Lance knows everything that happened,” Frankie Andreu said yesterday. “He’s the one who knows who did what because he was the ringleader. It’s up to him how much he wants to expose.”

Armstrong has been in conversations with U.S. Anti-Doping Agency officials, touching off speculation that he might be willing to cooperate with authorities and name names.

Interviewer Oprah Winfrey didn’t say if the subject was broached during the taping on Monday at an Austin, Texas, hotel. In an appearance on CBS This Morning, Winfrey declined to give details on what Armstrong told her, but said she was “mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers.”

Asked whether he appeared contrite after a decade of denials, Winfrey replied, “I felt that he was thoughtful, I thought that he was serious, I thought that he certainly had prepared for this moment. I would say that he met the moment.”

She was promoting what has become a two-part special on her OWN network on Thursday and Friday.

Around the same time, World Anti-Doping Agency officials issued a statement saying nothing short of “a full confession under oath” would cause them to reconsider Armstrong’s lifetime ban from sanctioned events.

The International Cycling Union also urged Armstrong to tell his story to an independent commission it has set up to examine claims that the sport’s governing body hid suspicious samples from the cyclist, accepted financial donations from him and helped him avoid detection in doping tests.

The ban was only one of several penalties handed to Armstrong after a scathing, 1,000-page report by USADA last year. Armstrong was also stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, lost nearly all of his endorsements and was forced to cut ties with the Livestrong cancer charity he founded in 1997.

The report portrayed Armstrong as the mastermind of a long-running scheme that employed steroids, blood boosters such as EPO, and a range of other performance-enhancers to dominate the tour. It included revealing testimony from 11 former teammates, including Andreu and his wife, Betsy.

Meanwhile, Armstrong’s legal team has mapped out a strategy on how to handle at least two pending lawsuits against him, and possibly a third.

Reports say Justice Department officials are likely to join a whistleblower lawsuit against Armstrong by former teammate Floyd Landis, citing a source who works outside the government and requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record about the matter.

The lawsuit by Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title after testing positive, alleges that Armstrong defrauded the U.S. government by repeatedly denying he used performance-enhancing drugs. The deadline to join the False Claims Act lawsuit, which could require Armstrong to return substantial sponsorship fees and pay a hefty penalty, is Thursday.

Landis is hardly the only one seeking money from Armstrong.

The London-based Sunday Times already has filed a lawsuit to recover about $500,000 it paid Armstrong to settle a libel case, and Dallas-based SCA Promotions, which tried to deny him a promised bonus for a Tour de France win, has threatened to bring another lawsuit seeking to recover more than $7.5 million awarded by an arbitration panel.

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