Yesterday was the deadline for Lance Armstrong to come forward and fully cooperate with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency if he hoped to get his lifetime ban from competition reduced to eight years. The deadline came and went without Armstrong meeting with USADA officials, leaving many to wonder what the next move is for the disgraced cyclist who seems embattled on numerous fronts at the moment.
Following his much publicized interview with Oprah Winfrey last month, in which he admitted to doping while riding in the Tour de France, the USADA asked Armstrong to testify under oath about his use of performance enhancing drugs. The organization dangled the carrot of removing the lifetime ban if he came clean on the subject and shared his information on which doctors, coaches, trainers and cycling officials facilitated his doping over the years. In other words, they were willing to reduce the ban provided Lance named names.
Armstrong’s lawyers say that he is willing to cooperate and share more details, but the cyclist fears opening himself up to more lawsuits. He also says that the USADA should be a part of a larger investigation conducted by WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency. Lance believes that WADA has more jurisdiction over the sport because cycling is so Euro-centric. Lance has always maintained that the USADA’s efforts were too narrowly focused on only select American riders when the entire sport needs to be cleaned up.
For its part, the USADA now says it’ll move forward with its own investigations. After extending the deadline for Lance already, they don’t seem too thrilled with the idea of delaying further. The organization still has a lot of work to do in terms of tracking down everyone who was involved in the widespread use of PED’s in cycling. As we all know by now, that is a rabbit hole that runs quite deep.
Personally, I believe Lance is hoping to get his ban reduced even further. A lifetime ban from competition is pretty clear cut and an eight-year ban isn’t much of an improvement. For an athlete, eight years is an eternity. Most can survive a two or three year band and get back to a competitive level, but eight years might as well be a lifetime. The chances of us ever seeing Lance competing in a race of any kind again seems fairly remote at this point.