The cost of competition

He might have been a cheat, but Lance Armstrong never wanted to be a rat.

Which is why his two-part ''confession'' with Oprah Winfrey a year ago was so frustrating.

While he did finally admit to doping throughout his seven Tour de France victories, there was no where the level of detail that many were hoping for, the level of detail which would finally rip open the festering wound which was the doped-up world of professional cycling.

Armstrong has been an enigma for me for most of my journalism career.

As someone who has developed a deep affection for the sport, the Texan was at the same time the greatest and the worst thing that ever happened to cycling.

I wanted to believe, but the more I learnt about cycling, the more I realised that Armstrong was simply too good to be true.

And when his world fell down around his ears, when years of suspicion and whispering finally managed to bring him down, Armstrong swore he'd never rat out those he conspired with.

But that all seems to be changing, according to this report.

Armstrong has never previously talked about the medical staff who helped set up and run what was described by USADA as the most sophisticated doping scheme ever run in world sport, or those who ran his hugely successful US Postal team. (As an aside, I've always been a little uncomfortable with that reference - what about the East Germans? Are we confident the Chinese haven't gotten up to anything worse?)

Now it appears as if he has named names, and there's only one reason for it.

Armstrong wants/needs/loves to compete and his lifetime ban from Olympic sports basically rules him out of competing in any sporting event on the planet.

Having just read Juliet Macur's excellent Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong it's clear Armstrong had hopes his ban could be lowered to as little as two years if he gave up those who helped run the doping machine.

That's why he holds onto claims that he was clean during his comeback to the Tour de France in 2009 and 2010.

Two big questions remain.

Will Armstrong one day be able to return to competition, perhaps as an age group competitor in Ironman?

Will he give up even more names so that he can compete again?


The Southland Times