In what could be the most dramatic turnaround in the drawn-out saga of Lance Armstrong and the US Anti-Doping Agency's case against him, a report today states that the now ex-Tour de France champion, who has been banned for life from all WADA code signatory sports, is considering a confession so that he can resume his sporting career in running and triathlon.
The NY Times' Juliet Macur writes that sources familiar with the case, which saw Armstrong stripped of his competitive results from August 1, 1998 on and banned for life, have "has told associates and anti-doping officials that he is considering publicly admitting that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions during his cycling career".
According to the report, Armstrong's attorney Tim Herman said that a confession was not on the table. However, the report indicates that pressure from the wealthy Livestrong Foundation supporters have been urging him to come forward to spare the non-profit further damage. The Livestrong Foundation was previously known as the Lance Armstrong Foundation, until the charity legally changed its name to strip Armstrong from its moniker following the release of the USADA's reasoned decision in October.
The WADA code allows for reduced sentences in return for testimony from athletes on how they were able to engage in doping activities. Tyler Hamilton, one of the witnesses in the USADA case, was given a reduced 8-year ban for his second offense when he tested positive for DHEA.
Four riders were given reduced bans of six months for their doping admissions and cooperation with USADA in the Armstrong/US Postal Service investigation: Levi Leipheimer, David Zabriskie, Chrisitan Vande Velde and Tom Danielson.
However, a reduced ban coming after the sanction being delivered unchallenged by the UCI and WADA would be highly unusual.
A confession from Armstrong would be a delicate and complicated move: he is currently facing lawsuits from SCA Promotions, which is looking to recoup money it was forced to pay him in bonuses for his Tour de France victories, money it refused to pay after the David Walsh and Pierre Ballester book LA Confidentiel was released alleging that Armstrong doped.
He is also being sued by the Sunday Times, which settled a libel suit over LA Confidentiel's doping allegations with Armstrong. In addition, Armstrong could be the subject of a US federal whistleblower lawsuit - a suit which citizens can take up over those who defraud the government - reportedly started by Floyd Landis on the basis that the US Postal Service's sponsorship money was being used for illegal performance enhancement by the team.
Further complicating any admission is the fact that Armstrong's longtime team manager and directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel is also facing a lifetime ban as part of the affair, but has chosen to take his case to arbitration rather than succumb to the ban as Armstrong did.
When contacted by Cyclingnews today, USADA stated that no date has been set for Bruyneel's arbitration.