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If Lance Armstrong comes clean, should he be reinstated?

January 14, 2013
  • Banned cyclist Lance Armstrong, shown in 2010, is expected to admit to doping when he is interviewed by Oprah Winfrey this week.
Banned cyclist Lance Armstrong, shown in 2010, is expected to admit to doping… (Bas Czerwinski / Associated…)

Writers from around Tribune Co. discuss what should happen if banned cyclist Lance Armstrong admits to doping, which he is expected to do in an interview with Oprah Winfrey this week. Feel free to join the conversation with a comment of your own.

Philip Hersh, Chicago Tribune

Before assuming Lance Armstrong comes fully clean, not to Oprah but to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency under oath -- quite an assumption, given his decade of lies -- it is worth noting there is a rule covering reinstatement. The World Anti-Doping Code allows reduction in the period of ineligibility for a person who provides “substantial assistance in discovering or establishing anti-doping rule violations.” In the case of a lifetime ban, as Armstrong received, the code says the new ban must be no less than eight years. 

PHOTOS: Lance Armstrong through the years

Although this would be a precedent-setting case, and there could be flexibility in a reduced sanction, there is no need to give Armstrong a break. He never played by the rules as an athlete. No matter what Armstrong might tell USADA, he should be forced to play by them now and sit out at least eight years from the time the sanction was applied last fall.

Gary R. Blockus, Allentown Morning Call

If Lance Armstrong comes clean to Oprah Winfrey -- and that’s a huge IF -- there is no way he should be allowed back into legitimate athletic competitions for almost as many reasons as the number of denials he’s issued and the lies he’s told. He didn’t just lie about cheating, he repeatedly lied about repeatedly cheating. He bullied teammates into cheating. He built a castle around himself called Livestrong so that if you were anti-Lance, if you doubted the legitimacy of his accomplishments, you were somehow perceived of as pro-cancer. He discovered ways to beat the drug tests, the epitome of someone trying to cheat.

When faced with the truth, he lied. When faced with testimony of former teammates, he lied more. When stripped of his accomplishments by USADA, he lied some more. When UCI -- the world governing body of cycling that he bribed earlier in his career to cover up a suspicious test result -- finally acquiesced to removing Armstrong’s name from the seven Tour de France titles he cheated to win, he continued to lie.

Do we really believe he’s going to come clean via Oprah? If he had any integrity left, he’d do his shtick on "60 Minutes," "20/20" or "Rock Center With Brian Williams." Let Armstrong compete in whatever he wants, just make sure that he won’t be eligible for any wins or prize money. He’s prospered enough by cheating. He should never be trusted again.

[Updated at 1:33 p.m.:

Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times

During a scheduled interview with Oprah Winfrey in Austin, Texas, Lance Armstrong is expected at least to apologize for his involvement in performance-enhancing methods to win seven Tour de France titles.

For him to be reinstated to compete in marathon and triathlon races, he must provide anti-doping agencies a full, detailed description of how he beat the system for so long. The World Anti-Doping Code allows for this.

By raising his apology to a full-blown confession, Armstrong would leave himself vulnerable to perjury charges, given his prior denials of performance-enhancing-drug use and blood doping in a civil case.

So, given the fact that he's already been stripped of his titles, been subjected to great public ridicule as one of sport's greatest all-time frauds, and could face criminal sanctions, yes, allow him the forgiveness to finish in the back of the pack in the competition of his choice.

Paul Doyle, Hartford Courant

After years of denials, Lance Armstrong is looking for sympathy and redemption. And he's chasing it with the great American cliche -- an emotional confession on Oprah's couch. Or at least that's what we expect.

At this point, we don't know what to believe when the words come from Armstrong's mouth. But based on what's been said and reported by others, it should take more than a session with the talk show queen before anyone -- those he defamed and lied to, those who defended him and, of course, the governing agencies that will decide his future status as an athlete -- offers forgiveness.

Armstrong's doping was surely part of a large web in the cycling world, but he was the face of the sport and his petulance is a big part of his story. Make him wait. This cannot erase the past.]

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