USADA Could Reduce Lance Armstrong’s Ban

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Lance Armstrong might receive an opportunity to plead for a reduction of his lifetime ban from cycling. According to an article posted by the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph, Brian Cookson, the President of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the governing body over professional cycling, has been asked to help set-up a meeting between Armstrong and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). That meeting could give the former cyclist an opportunity to broker a deal that could see him return to competition, although there would be some serious stipulations that would come along with potentially lifting the ban.

The Telegraph says that Travis Tygart, the head of the USADA, is in favor of sitting down with Armstrong, but in order for the ban to be lifted Lance would need to do more than just come clean about his use of performance enhancing drugs – something he has already done on more than one occasion. In fact, Outside Online is reporting that Tygart wants Armstrong to cooperate in future investigations of the use of PED’s, helping to shed light on new cases that could arise. The USADA would also like the former Tour de France winner to become an anti-doping ambassador who would speak out against the practice of using PED’s.

The story here isn’t that the USADA is open to discussing a reduction of Armstrong’s lifetime ban, as Tygart and his team have always maintained that they would be willing to talk to Lance provided he was more forthcoming about the rampant use of performance enhancing substance in professional cycling. The new element that has been missing from this story prior to recent events is that it seems that Armstrong himself may be willing to cooperate more fully. Since Cookson has been asked to try to arrange a meeting, that would indicate that Lance may be ready to cooperate on a level that he hasn’t in the past, possibly opening the door for his return to competition.

Let’s face it. Lance isn’t going to ride in the Tour de France ever again. Those days are long over. But, he is a talented athlete and he loves competition. He would like the opportunity to compete in marathons, road races, triathlons, and other events. But his lifetime ban from competition prevents him from competing even in local races. If that ban gets lifted, I suspect we’d see Armstrong taking part in competitions again very soon thereafter.

Getting that ban lifted is still some time off I’m sure. But it seems that the door has been cracked open for a possible return. We’ll just have to see if Lance is willing to accept the USADA’s stipulations.

Kraig Becker