BY ADEYEMI OSHUNRINADE
The celebrated cyclist Lance Armstrong has finally admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he indeed doped and participated in illegal performance drug use to boost his cycling career. With seven Tour de France titles to his credit, impeccable international recognition and once faultless career that many parents in America want their children to emulate, the cyclist Lance Armstrong was revered as a darling, a true athlete and role model whose generosity is felt within the cancer community, through his foundation LiveStrong which has raised millions of dollars to help cancer victims and survivors.
In 2012 Armstrong was slapped with allegations of doping with his co-cyclist Floyd Landis who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France, after failing a drug test. Landis made series of claims that he indeed doped with Armstrong to which the latter denied. Landis had implicated Armstrong when he said in an email he sent to cycling officials and sponsors that Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel his longtime coach, had paid an International Cycling Union official to hide a test in 2002 after Armstrong purportedly tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO.
Since the allegations of drug use surfaced, Armstrong has repeatedly and vehemently denied involvement or participation in any activities, pointing to the use of banned performance enhancing drugs or illegal blood transfusion, even in the face of the most convincing evidence and testimonies presented by dozen other athletes. It is ironic the onetime celebrated athlete has suddenly decided to come out, after deceiving the entire nation and the cycling community into believing that all allegations mounted against him, were nothing but a witch hunt and a move designed to assassinate his character.
Earlier before a sit down with Oprah, Armstrong according to news reports, had tearfully apologized to the staff of his charity LiveStrong, for the agony he put them through since the investigation began. What remains unclear is why he would choose now to tell them the truth knowing all along the damage his non admission could do to his image, which apparently translates to how supporters view his foundation to which they have contributed millions of dollars over the years.
Since USADA placed a lifetime ban on Armstrong after overwhelming evidence proved he was engaged in doping, Armstrong had refused to challenge the decision despite all opportunity offered to enable him dispute the allegations. This prompted the International Cycling Union to strip him of his seven Tour de France. The World Anti-Doping Agency also supported the sanctions, a move that may deny him of the possibility of ever participating in any competition organized by the body.
Today’s admission and his decision to testify against cycling official, is making analysts to wonder whether this move is an attempt to find closure and redeem himself, after the damage done to his career and reputation as a respected athlete. To some, the move may have been long overdue and current confession, too late to have the profound effect it could have attracted had he done so earlier, when he had the opportunity.
Armstrong with his legal team must have weighed the possibility of criminal prosecution before deciding to come forward. It is likely that part of the deal before agreeing to testify against cycling officials, is that he won’t face any criminal charge. However, Armstrong faces the possibility of civil actions by those who feel defrauded and deceived because they had invested in him and his foundation believing he would live to expectation. He may also face a civil lawsuit by the United States Postal Service for violating the terms of his contract, which stipulates that doping would result in a breach of their agreement.
If there is anything to gain from his confession, he may have his lifetime ban reduced to eight years or possibly less if fortunate. There is the likelihood of him getting a second chance and making a comeback after his ban, in an attempt to prove he still has what it takes to compete. Nonetheless, it is impossible to quickly erode the damage done to his career by the lies. His narrative of bold face denial in the midst of convincing evidence, is one for the history books.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available at http://www.amazon.com/author/adeyemioshunrinade. Follow on Twitter @san0670.