sport

Cycling bodies ponder fall-out

The fall-out from Lance Armstrong's expected doping confession is already being considered.

The world is awaiting the broadcast of the disgraced cyclist's interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Talk-show host Winfrey has already revealed Armstrong came clean over his sordid past, which saw him stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life, in their interview in his home city of Austin, Texas on Monday.

The 41-year-old was banned for life after the United States Anti-Doping Agency found he had been at the heart of "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

The World Anti-Doping Agency and the UCI, cycling's world governing body, have urged Armstrong to reveal all to the authorities if he is to have any hope of lifting his life ban.

The International Olympic Committee, meanwhile, is among those waiting for the interview to be broadcast before considering whether to demand that Armstrong returns the bronze medal he won in the road time-trial at the 2000 Games in Sydney.

In December, the IOC postponed a decision on whether to strip Armstrong of the medal because it had to wait until the UCI had declared all his results ineligible. If Armstrong does make a full confession in his interview, the IOC will ask for the medal to be returned.

IOC communications director Mark Adams said: "From our side - clearly if he admits he cheated then we will be asking for the medal back as we would with any athlete."

Adams also claimed it is "premature" to even consider cycling's future in the Olympics.

IOC member Dick Pound, a former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, claimed cycling might have to be dropped from the Olympics if Armstrong implicated the UCI in a cover-up of his systematic doping.

Pound claimed the IOC may have to take action against the UCI if Armstrong's interview shows the governing body acted improperly. Adams added: "I think it is a little premature to talk about such things. He [Pound] is basing his comments on the reports of an interview that has not yet been broadcast - once it has been and once UCI and USADA have commented I think it will be clear the direction we will all be going."

Dutchman Hein Verbruggen, who was UCI president from 1991 to 2005 as Armstrong dominated the sport, struggles to see how the blame can be apportioned to cycling's world governing body, given the Texan did not fail a test.

The relationship between the UCI and Armstrong is one of the matters being investigated by an independent commission.

The two-and-a-half-hour interview, brokered between Armstrong and Winfrey over lunch in Hawaii, where both have homes, during the Festive season, is to be broadcast over two nights this week.

The motives for an admission - revealed by Winfrey - are unclear, but the Texan, who retired from cycling for a second time in 2010, was competing in triathlons until he was banned last year.

In the last week, Armstrong has been apologising to prominent figures in his sporting life and the Livestrong Foundation confirmed he had paid it a visit.

Armstrong, who survived testicular cancer before his seven Tour 'wins', established the charity, but stood down as chairman following USADA's publication of its reasoned decision into the doping practices of his United States Postal Service team.

At that time references to his cycling career were also removed from his profile on the Livestrong.org website.

"This week, Lance came to the LIVESTRONG Foundation to talk to our team in person," read a statement from Livestrong, who reiterated its independence from Armstrong. "He expressed his regret for the stress the team suffered in recent years as a result of the controversy surrounding his cycling career.

"He asked that they stay focused on serving people affected by cancer, something our team has always done excellently and will continue to do.

"We expect Lance to be completely truthful and forthcoming in his interview and with all of us in the cancer community. We expect we will have more to say at that time."

The Winfrey interview could be just the beginning for Armstrong, with a confession opening him up to a host of possible legal actions.

There are existing suits involving SCA Promotions and The Sunday Times, while the United States Department of Justice could yet join a whistle blower lawsuit filed against Armstrong by former team-mate Floyd Landis.

The False Claims Act lawsuit could see Armstrong forced to repay a substantial sum to the US Government following its sponsorship of cycling through the US Postal Service.

The first part of the interview will be shown on the 'Oprah' show at 9pm local time on Thursday (2am GMT on Friday), with the second to follow 24 hours later.