sport

Cookson: Armstrong must tell all

British Cycling president Brian Cookson has urged Lance Armstrong to name names when he addresses the doping accusations against him this week.

Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by the International Cycling Union (UCI) last year, is due to be interviewed on American television by Oprah Winfrey on Thursday.

The 41-year-old has maintained a silence since the US Anti-Doping Agency prompted UCI's action by claiming that Armstrong and his US Postal team had run "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

Prior to that Armstrong had spent years denying doping allegations against him, but there is speculation he will at least make a partial admission after the Oprah Winfrey Network confirmed the issue would be addressed.

Cookson told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme: "For me the real thing that has to come out is who were these other people involved, who were the people supplying and helping him, the doctors that helped him, the companies that supplied him.

"Some of the stuff he was taking, apparently, was still in clinical trials so how on earth did he get hold of this kind of stuff?

"If the allegations that he bribed people, that he was given a nod and a wink when the testers were approaching his house and all this kind of thing, are true, let's have that information.

"Who actually did he bribe, where were the payments made, were third parties involved and so on?

"Let's not have innuendos and smears, let's have the actual facts and names of places and towns, the amounts.

"The sort of thing Armstrong was doing, apparently, according to the USADA report, was not just popping a few pills behind the changing rooms, it was sophisticated conspiracies, cheating over a long period of time on a large scale."

The Sunday Times have taken out an advertisement in the Chicago Tribune with a list of 10 questions it wants Winfrey to ask Armstrong.

The British newspaper announced in December plans to sue Armstrong for 1.5million US dollars as a result of losing a libel action to him over doping allegations made in 2006.

Among the questions, chief sports writer David Walsh asks whether Armstrong told doctors in 1996 that he had used EPO, human growth hormone, cortisone, steroids and testosterone, whether he intends to return his prize money, and whether he accepts "lying to the cancer community was the greatest deception of all".

Cookson added: "It's all very strange. After years and years of denials and suing people who have made accusations, he is going to either have to eat humble pie or come up with some extra layers of lies.

"He has got to be very careful he doesn't make himself a laughing stock amongst people in our sport.

"I think this is the only way out for him - to make this kind of tearful confession and say, 'I did it but they were all doing it as well and I only did what I felt I had to do, look at all the money I have raised for charity, and by the way I was brought up by a single parent'.

"I think there will be all these layers of emotion and obfuscation of the real issue, which is that he cheated, along with a lot of other people in and around his team."

There has been speculation a confession from Armstrong could pave the way for him to return to competitive action in triathlon, but Cookson hopes top-level sport has seen the last of him.

He said: "We have still got that reputational damage that was done by Armstrong, so I don't want him back in our sport and I hope he doesn't get a reduction in his sentence from USADA that would allow him to take part in any other sport, quite frankly."