WADA: Armstrong’s attempt at reduced ban ‘almost too late’
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) – Lance Armstrong has not done enough to get his life ban reduced and his latest bid for rehabilitation is coming too late, the director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency said Tuesday.
In an interview with The Associated Press, David Howman said the disgraced American cyclist did not seize the opportunities he had to come forward with the details of his doping past.
“If he satisfied the criteria to go forward and ask for suspension of his ban, the criteria will be carefully looked at, but so far he has not,” Howman said on the sidelines of a WADA symposium in Lausanne. “There is no consideration being given to it.”
Armstrong met with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart this month in hopes of getting a reduction of his ban but has yet to get in touch with WADA. The meeting with Tygart was the first since 2012, the year Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life after systematic doping within his former teams was exposed.
Armstrong made a public confession about his doping but WADA was expecting him to give a comprehensive account of his cheating.
“I’m not sure why he has not done anything,” Howman said. “He certainly had plenty of opportunities, including talking to us, but he has not come forward with substantial information that might be helpful to the cycling fraternity.”
Armstrong previously met twice with European officials investigating doping in cycling as part of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission hearings. The report pointed out that he was the only rider banned for life in 2012 by USADA while former teammates who testified against him were banned for just six months.
The report also noted that Armstrong deserved a “harsh sanction,” and that some reduced penalties could be justified for riders who cooperated with USADA’s initial investigation, which Armstrong did not.
Armstrong has complained of receiving unfair treatment in his campaign for his lifetime suspension to be overturned. The ban also covers sanctioned triathlons and marathons, Armstrong’s other favorite sports.
“If he had been given a harsher treatment, then one would have expected an appeal. There was no appeal,” Howman said. “Everybody would hope that he would sit down and explain the whole regime and what they did. He had that chance.
“He did not do it before the independent commission that was established by the UCI. He did not do it with USAD. He has not done it with us. It’s almost too late.”
Armstrong declined to comment.
Howman also agreed with UCI president Brian Cookson that Armstrong’s plans to ride part of the Tour de France route a day before the professional peloton this summer would be disrespectful.
Armstrong, who overcame testicular cancer, was approached to join the ride by former English soccer player Geoff Thomas, who is trying to raise $1.5 million for the fight against blood cancer.
“Mr. Cookson is the correct judge of that, and I think his statement reflected what was probably the position from their perspective, which is damaging,” Howman said. “I think there is probably going more attention on what he is doing than on the Tour, and that’s a little bit sad.”
Betsy Andreu, the wife of former Armstrong teammate Frankie Andreu who testified that he admitted to doctors treating him for cancer in 1996 that he had used performance-enhancing drugs, said Armstrong should act genuinely instead of trying to get his ban reduced out of personal interest.
“Not being able to compete for just two years is driving him nuts,” she told the AP. “So now he wants to give the impression that he is really, really sorry. Maybe he’ll do the right thing, but I don’t think he is remorseful. I think he is full of revenge. If he talks, it’s not because he wants to do good for the sport, but he wants to get back at everybody who let him take the heat himself.”
Betsy Andreu added that Armstrong’s planned return to France this summer was not a good idea.
“I think he’s so afraid of not being talked about. He is so afraid of becoming irrelevant,” she said. “So I look forward to the day when he says he is going to do something people just said: ‘OK, whatever.'”