- Article published:
- January 19, 2013, 03:52
- Jane Aubrey
Admission that he's in therapy, and the toll on his family
Lance Armstrong has told Oprah Winfrey that the loss of his personal sponsors in the wake of the USADA report cost him $75 million in future income. In the second part of the interview, much of the theme was on the cost of his years of lies and denials, be it financial or otherwise.
Long-time sponsors Nike, Oakley, Trek and Anheuser-Busch all jumped ship in October last year and finally, over two separate steps he lost his association with the cancer charity he founded in 1997, Livestrong.
"I've certainly lost all future income," he admitted. "You could look at the day and a half where people left. I don't like thinking about it. But that was a... I don't know. That was a $75 million day."
Armstrong said that he "assumed" that he would lose sponsors with the story "getting out of control". He stepped down as chairman of Livestrong first but remained on the board of directors. He later resigned from that position as well, effective November 4, 2012.
"That was the most humbling moment. To get that call," Armstrong explained. "Two parts. Step down as chairman but stay on the board. Stay involved. That wasn't enough. That wasn't enough for the people, for our supporters. Then a couple of weeks later the next call came and we need you to step aside.
"The foundation is like my sixth child. To make that decision to step aside," he continued. "That was big." Armstrong told Winfrey that while he wasn't "forced out" or "told to leave" he was "aware of the pressure" on the charity.
"It was the best thing for the organisation but it hurt like hell... That was the lowest."
A donation to USADA?
Television network CBS recently aired allegations on the 60 Minute Sports program that Armstrong's representatives offered nearly $250,000 donation to USADA in 2004. The Agency's CEO Travis Tygart told the program that "It was a clear conflict of interest for USADA... We had no hesitation in rejecting that offer."
Speaking with Winfrey, Armstrong denied that such a donation was ever made.
"No. That's not true," he said. "That is not true."
Armstrong questioned why the donation didn't make it in to the 1000 page dossier released last August.
"I had no knowledge of that. I've asked around. I said ‘Has anybody...?'"
"That's a lot of money. I would know."
Rallying against reality
The image of Armstrong laying in a darkened room, brightened by seven Tour de France yellow jerseys, soon after being stripped of his titles by USADA and the decision ratified by the UCI, was evidence of the defiant human nature of the 41-year-old. 'Back in Austin and just layin' around...' he tweeted.
"That was more defiance," Armstrong told Winfrey. "You what's scary is that I actually thought it was a good idea."
In the interview, Armstrong questioned the severity of his penalty, once again talking of his longing to remain a "competitor", even if he's not riding his bike.
"I made my bed but if there was ever a window..." he said.
Armstrong described his lifetime bad as a "death penalty," in comparison to others named in the USADA report who received six month bans.
"I deserve to be punished I'm not sure I deserve the death penalty."
As he did in the first half of the interview, Armstrong again denied having used performance-enhancing drugs during his comeback years from 2009. He explained the role that his ex-wife Kristin played in his decision to return to the peloton.
"The thing about her and my doping and this comeback. She was the one person I asked if I could do that," he said.
"She said to me you can do it. Under one condition that you never cross that line again."
It followed a query from Winfrey over whether there was any one person who ever knew the truth about Armstrong's career. He said there was, but that is where the probing stopped. He did however concede that Kristin certainly had some knowledge of his anti-doping violations, saying she was on a "need to know" basis.
"She wasn't that curious," he said. "Perhaps she didn't want to know."
The needle and the damage done...
There was more talk of repentance from Armstrong in the second half of the interview and he included Sunday Times journalist David Walsh in that. Armstrong, as he frequently mentioned throughout the interview is a cancer survivor, and it's that doggedness that is likely to remain.
"That is a guy who felt he was invincible," he explained.
"That guy's still there. I'm not going to lie to you and the public. I'm in therapy...," he admitted.
Armstrong said that the catalyst for him to open up about his past doings was the knowledge that his 13-year-old son Luke, had been defending him in the wake of the USADA report. Recollection of the discussion that he had with his children brought Armstrong close to tears.
"He's been remarkably calm and mature about this," he said of his oldest son.
"They're going to see this, and I told him if any kid says anything to him, tell him my dad said sorry."
Armstrong's mother, Linda, has been by side through much of his career and he admitted that the revelations in recent times has left her "a wreck."
Armstrong told Winfrey that he has a long road ahead.
"I will spend as long as I have to making amends," he said. "Knowing full well I won't get a lot of those people back," with potentially millions of his former supporters now disillusioned about the Armstrong they once believed in.
"Do you feel disgraced?" Winfrey asked.
"Of course," Armstrong conceded. "But I also feel humbled. I feel ashamed. This is ugly stuff."
- Lance Armstrong
- Article published:
- January 19, 2013, 10:44
- Cycling News
Armstrong denied offering $250,000 in Winfrey interview
The US Anti-Doping Agency has supported CEO Travis Tygart’s assertion that representatives of Lance Armstrong had attempted to make a donation of some $250,000 to the body in 2004.
During the second part of his televised interview with Oprah Winfrey, which was screened on Friday evening, Armstrong denied that he had made any such offer to USADA. He claimed that if it had occurred, it would have been included in USADA’s Reasoned Decision, which provides rigorous detail on the case against Armstrong.
“Why wasn’t that in there? Pretty big story. Oprah, it’s not true,” Armstrong told Winfrey on Friday evening.
Tygart had spoken of the attempted donation in an interview with “60 Minutes Sports” aired last week, noting that USADA had instantly rejected the offer as a “clear conflict of interest.” The USADA stance contrasted with that of the UCI, which accepted a similar donation from Armstrong of $100,000 towards its anti-doping programme.
In a brief statement on Friday night, USADA stood by Tygart’s account and all of the information provided in the Reasoned Decision. “We stand by the facts both in the Reasoned Decision and in the ‘60 Minutes’ interview,” read the USADA statement.
Armstrong, who has been banned for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, confessed to doping during each of those victories in the first part of the Winfrey interview, broadcast on Thursday evening.
- Article published:
- January 19, 2013, 12:09
- Cycling News
"He was obliged to win"
Paolo Savoldelli has speculated that being the “incarnation of the American Dream” had put enormous pressures on Lance Armstrong and contributed to his decision to dope his way to victory at seven consecutive Tours de France.
Savoldelli, who won the Giro d’Italia while riding for Armstrong’s Discovery Channel team in 2005, insisted that doping alone had not been the sole reason behind Armstrong’s since rescinded successes.
“I’m not at all convinced that he won seven Tours only by doping himself,” Savoldelli said, according to the Ansa news agency. “What ruined Lance was the fact that he was the incarnation of the American Dream.”
Savoldelli raced alongside Armstrong in 2005, the Texan’s final season before his first retirement. He said he was struck by the magnitude and status of the entourage that had built up around Armstrong as he prepared for his seventh consecutive Tour win.
“He had an enormous country like the United States behind him, he even participated in George W. Bush’s electoral campaign,” Savoldelli said. “He had a lot of sponsors behind him. He was the American idol and the fact that he had succeeded in beating even cancer had made him even more of a personality. He was obliged to win, and many times I asked myself how he was able to live with so much pressure on him.”
Savoldelli has previously criticised both the federal investigation into doping at Armstrong’s US Postal Service team and the US Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to strip Armstrong of his seven Tour titles. Armstrong offered a belated confession to doping during an interview with Oprah Winfrey, televised on Thursday and Friday night, but continued to claim that he had not doped during his ill-starred comeback to cycling in 2009.
“Lance has made a mistake and he will pay,” Savoldelli said. “But his biggest mistake was to come back riding.”
Meanwhile, Armstrong’s former Motorola teammate Andrea Peron claimed that the American was clean when they rode together in 1995 and 1996. “That team wasn’t US Postal, the change happened there,” Peron insisted, a contention which jars with the fact that Armstrong has admitted to doping before his diagnosis with cancer in 1996.
“The guy I knew was a phenomenon who didn’t need to dope,” Peron continued. “Without [doping] maybe he wouldn’t have won seven Tours, but two or three certainly.”
- Article published:
- January 19, 2013, 13:27
- Cycling News
Van Garderen eyes time trial
Thor Hushovd (Team BMC Racing) will make his long-awaited comeback to racing at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. The seven-day stage race offers the European based teams an escape to warmer climates as well as a chance to test their early season form with a number of difficult stages.
Hushovd has not raced since July and abandoned the Giro d'Italia in May 2012. He hasn't picked up a win since the Tour of Britain in 2011. A viral infection was blamed for his lack of form and fitness last season but according to his team he has now turned the corner and will use the Argentine stage as part of his Classics preparation.
"First I would like to get back to race speed since I haven't been racing for half a year," Hushovd said.
"Also, now I'm motivated and hungry to compete and having the start number on my back. So I would like to get a result if I have the form."
Hushovd isn't alone in using the race as part of his training, with teammate Tejay van Garderen entering the race with a similar outlook. The American finished fifth in last year's Tour de France and picked up the white jersey - the first American to do so since Andy Hampsten in 1986.
Despite the course suiting his characteristics as a rider, van Garderen refused to put any pressure on his shoulders, only admitting that the 19.2 kilometre time trial was a real objective, while the rest of the race would be used as solid training. However if the American has a strong ride in the time trial - as compatriot Levi Leipheimer did in 2012 - he could find himself in the mix for the win.
"I'll definitely go full gas in the time trial," he said, "but really this is more to get some racing kilometres in the legs. I'll just stay relaxed and safe and get some good training out of it."
- Article published:
- January 19, 2013, 14:37
- Cycling News
Dutchman admits to blood transfusions
Thomas Dekker has shed further light on the doping culture that existed at Rabobank during his spell at the team from 2004 to 2008. The Dutchman, who previously served a two-year ban for testing positive for EPO, has now confessed to also undergoing blood transfusions during his time at Rabobank.
“It was easy to be influenced, doping was widespread,” Dekker told NRC Handelsblad, saying that he began using EPO in 2006.
In May of last year, former Rabobank manager Theo De Rooy already admitted that doping was tolerated on the team until 2007 and the Dutch bank withdrew from sponsorship at the end of the 2012 season. The team continues under the guise of Blanco Pro Cycling in 2013, albeit without a title sponsor and with alterations to its management structure.
Dekker, who now rides for Garmin-Sharp after returning from suspension in late 2011, said that doping was simply an endemic part of the culture in the Rabobank set-up of the time.
“They should have told me to be patient and to stay clear of doping, but that wasn’t the case,” he said. “There was no dissenting voice. Doping was a way of life and a way of riding for many teammates, colleagues and me, too. Doping was part of the job – it’s hard, you train hard and you do everything for the bike.”
As well as using EPO, Dekker explained that a member of the team’s management had put him in contact with “a man who carried out blood transfusions,” and he said he received transfusions on three occasions.
“I thought it was the way to success, all the big riders were doing it,” Dekker said. “I received a blood bag three times. With doping, you can have everything, but in fact you’re left with nothing afterwards.”
As well as Dekker’s confession, the NRC Handelsblad report includes information from an unnamed former Rabobank rider, who says that EPO was first used by a majority of the team’s riders at the 1996 Tour de France.
Late last year, NRL also claimed that Michael Boogerd, Denis Menchov and Michael Rasmussen had also undergone blood doping while at Rabobank, and reported that Dr. Geert Leinders - who later worked for Sky - had been named by Levi Leipheimer in his testimony to USADA and had assisted the American in his doping.
- Article published:
- January 19, 2013, 15:12
- Daniel Benson
Trentin to provide lead-out in Argentina
Omega Pharma-QuickStep has pinpointed Matteo Trentin as the rider most likely to lead out Mark Cavendish at the Tour de San Luis, which starts on Monday. The event marks Cavendish's first race for the Belgian team since his move from Sky at the tail end of 2012.
Speaking to Cyclingnews before a five-hour training ride in the hills around San Luis, Martin Velits confirmed that Trentin's speed and experience made him the best candidate, although he indicated that the team would work en masse to help Cavendish win.
"We've Trentin, and he's pretty fast and had some good lead-outs last year. We've a couple of fast guys who can take over inside the final 3 kilometres," Velits told Cyclingnews.
"We had two training camps when we practiced team lead-outs and time trialing," he added.
"We've done a lot of drills and I think everyone is ready. I'm not the guy who will be there to help in the last kilometre. I'll be the guy who helps control the race in the begging and then maybe have a job in the last 5 kilometres."
Legs permitting, Cavendish has a strong chance of picking up the first two stages of the race, should they end in bunch sprints. However Velits warned that controlling the race with six-man teams could be a major factor. While some of the national teams in the race have been allocated seven spots in the race, the WorldTour teams have been awarded just six.
"It will be about controlling the race in the sprint stages. It will be difficult to control with six men, there are some teams with seven but there are more WorldTour teams here so hopefully that means that the race will be more controlled.
"Hopefully from day one we can get some help from teams with sprinters or from the teams with GC guys who don't want big breaks to get away. After day one, it all depends, because if we win I don't think we'll get much help. But if we don't win then I still expect us to get some help."
Team director at the race, and former pro-rider, Davide Bramati, added: "We know already the parcours and the road here even if there are slight changes. The course is difficult, with uphill finishes, a time trial and few stages for the sprinters. We will see day by day how to interpret the race. We have good riders and it would be great to start our season with a good result."
- Article published:
- January 19, 2013, 20:25
- Cycling News
Former Armstrong director planning another book
Former team manager for Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel, is reportedly ready to cooperate with investigators from the Royal Belgian Cycling Federation (RLVB), according to Het Laatste Nieuws.
The RLVB has been looking into allegations that Bruyneel helped to facilitate an organized doping scheme in the US Postal Service team since Floyd Landis first went public with his accusations to that effect in 2010. The charges were forwarded on to the federal prosecutor last October.
Following the confession of Armstrong to doping during all seven of his Tour de France victories, the RLVB is seeking to move forward its investigation to determine if Bruyneel violated its anti-doping regulations.
"We invited Bruyneel to come in," said federal prosecutor Jaak Fransen on Friday. "He said he is formally prepared to cooperate in the investigation, but because he is often abroad the interrogation has not taken place.
"We want to give him an opportunity to give his version of the facts. We planned a meeting for the near future, and we have to wait and see whether he actually will confess."
Other reports in De Telegraaf state that Bruyneel is working on a book that will tell his side of the US Postal story, and that he is still planning to go forward with his arbitration with the US Anti-Doping Agency, which has proposed a lifetime ban from the sport for the Belgian.
"I will continue as long as I feel that I will be given a fair hearing, without prejudice on the part of USADA," Bruyneel said on Wednesday.
Bruyneel was dismissed from his role as general manager of the Radioshack-Nissan team following the release of USADA's reasoned decision documents. He faces a possible lifetime ban from the sport.
- Article published:
- January 19, 2013, 22:15
- Barry Ryan
Australian on the differences between leading out and sprinting
Mark Renshaw (Blanco Pro Cycling) begins his season in earnest at the Tour Down Under and the Australian will be hoping that he can travel further along the road of conversion between lead-out man and sprinter than he did in 2012.
After three years piloting Mark Cavendish at Highroad, Renshaw opted to explore his own possibilities as a sprinter by joining Rabobank (now Blanco) ahead of last season. The campaign yielded just one victory, a stage at the Tour of Turkey, and while sharing sprinting duties with Theo Bos was undoubtedly a mitigating factor, Renshaw admitted that he was disappointed with his return.
“I’d hoped for a better season,” Renshaw told Cyclingnews. “I had some good form but results are what matters and I didn’t live up to my expectations during the year for a number of reasons.”
Renshaw imagined beforehand that the psychological – as opposed to the physical – aspects of making the transition from lead-out to sprinter would prove the greatest obstacle. That concern was misplaced, while the technical nuts and bolts of putting together a lead-out train also entered the equation.
“I thought the mental aspect would be quite big so I worked a lot on that side of things but it’s actually the physical aspects and teamwork that makes the difference,” he said. “Mentally I could handle it, but it was just that in some races I needed to be in better position and I needed more help. Ultimately it came down to what happened on the road and not so much the mental side of things.”
As the season began, Renshaw became increasingly versed in the differences between being a lead-out man and sprinter, quickly realising that it was “like chalk and cheese.” The crucial difference, he noted, is that while a lead-out man can make a series of smaller efforts throughout the day and still perform in the final kilometre, a sprinter cannot afford to be caught out of position at any point during the day.
“As a lead-out man, you’re expected to drop your leader off at 200 metres to go but there are a lot of instances during the race where you have to move him up too,” he said. “But it’s feasible to use that energy and still do your job in the final kilometre while as a sprinter, if you’re missing 10 percent, you just won’t make it.”
Not that Renshaw ignored the need to make some physical adjustments in order to compete full-time as a sprinter. A training regimen that had previously been largely devoted to the honing the steadier sprint cadences of the lead-out man was tweaked to work on shorter, more powerful efforts.
“I changed a lot of my training at the start of 2012 to be more explosive. I gained more watts so it did help and I probably didn’t work on the long, 30-second sprint efforts as much as I did before. It worked and I could feel the results, but it still comes back to positioning: if you don’t have a good position, then it doesn’t really matter what you do.”
In spite of his new departure as a sprinter in 2012, however, Renshaw still found himself pressed into duty as a lead-out man for Theo Bos on several occasions. “That took away a lot of chances for me but he won a lot so the team was happy,” he said diplomatically.
But was Renshaw happy?
“Well, I’d like to win more races, that’s obvious, but the objective is for the team to win and I’m a team player,” he said. “And in saying that, I still had my opportunities, like at Paris-Brussels, where Theo helped me and I was second. That comes down to my physical abilities and I made an error and didn’t win. It’s not that I didn’t get chances, it’s that I missed the chances that I did have, whereas Theo hit the bullseye every time.”
While the nature of the personalities involved mean that the Renshaw-Bos pairing seems highly unlikely to spark the kind of tensions that defined the Cavendish-Greipel dynamic at Highroad, Blanco’s two sprinters will follow largely separate programmes in 2013.
“I think we’ll probably race less together now because we have more back-up for both trains,” he said. There are probably two or three races where I’ll team up with Theo, but a lot of the time we’ll have separate objectives.”
Even when the two fastmen are asked to perform together, however, Renshaw does not envisage any creative differences upsetting the rhythm of the Blanco lead-out train. Indeed, the very idea seems anathema to the quietly-spoken Bathurst native.
“I’m too much of a team player to have that happen and ultimately I know that I’m probably a better lead-out man than I am a sprinter, the past has proven that,” he said. “I made the move to Rabobank to improve as a sprinter and try to win races, but it’s only natural that the team would want me to help Theo too.”