sport

USADA: Armstrong must testify

The United States Anti-Doping Agency has called on Lance Armstrong to admit to the full extent of his drug use under oath.

After years of denials, the 41-year-old American told Oprah Winfrey that he doped during his run of seven successive Tour de France titles, from 1999 to 2005.

The confession followed a USADA investigation which implicated Armstrong as a central figure in what it called "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

Following the broadcast of the interview, USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said in a statement: "Tonight, Lance Armstrong finally acknowledged that his cycling career was built on a powerful combination of doping and deceit.

"His admission that he doped throughout his career is a small step in the right direction. But if he is sincere in his desire to correct his past mistakes, he will testify under oath about the full extent of his doping activities."

Armstrong stood down as chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, known as Livestrong, as pressure increased following the publication of USADA's reasoned decision into the doping practices of him and his United States Postal Service team.

"We at the Livestrong Foundation are disappointed by the news that Lance Armstrong misled people during and after his cycling career, including us," a statement from the charity read. "Earlier this week, Lance apologised to our staff and we accepted his apology in order to move on and chart a strong, independent course.

"We look forward to devoting our full energy to our mission of helping people not only fight and survive cancer, but also thrive in life after cancer.

"Even in the wake of our disappointment, we also express our gratitude to Lance as a survivor for the drive, devotion and spirit he brought to serving cancer patients and the entire cancer community.

"Lance is no longer on the foundation's board, but he is our founder and we will always be grateful to him for creating and helping to build a foundation that has served millions struggling with cancer.

"Our success has never been based on one person - it's based on the patients and survivors we serve every day, who approach a cancer diagnosis with hope, courage and perseverance.

"They have been, are and always will be our focus."

David Walsh, The Sunday Times' chief sports writer, is widely credited with much of the investigative journalism which contributed to Armstrong's downfall.

Walsh wrote on Twitter: "First reaction is Oprah began the interview brilliantly with her series of 'yes or no' questions. It felt good to hear him admit to doping.

"Too many questions not answered and refusal to confirm hospital room admission was deeply disappointing. Betsy Andreu will be disgusted."

Betsy Andreu, the wife of Armstrong's former team-mate Frankie Andreu, claims she heard the 41-year-old telling doctors at Indiana University Hospital that he had used performance-enhancing drugs. He was being treated for cancer at the time.

Armstrong described Betsy Andreu as "crazy" and he told Winfrey he had apologised to her for that, but would not confirm the hospital conversation took place.

Emma O'Reilly, a former masseuse with US Postal who spoke out about Armstrong's misdemeanours, was another who felt his wrath.

Walsh went on: "I was pleased Oprah reminded him he had called Emma O'Reilly a whore. And pleased he confirmed Emma's account of cover-up of 1999 positive.

"Lest anyone forget, he did this interview because his reputation/brand was in the gutter. Only time will tell how much it helps.

"When he said he was behaving like a jerk during those years, I thought 'Lance, I could have told you that back then."'

Broadcaster Phil Liggett, who has worked closely with Armstrong for some time, believes there could be further revelations to come and that the 41-year-old could not have acted alone.

Liggett said: "I still feel as though the show was a little bit soft on Lance.

"He hasn't really shown any real regret. He's not repenting.

"But he hasn't implicated anyone else and he could not have done this alone.

"Lance made it quite clear this was an interview about his confessions and not anybody else's."

Australian cyclist Phil Anderson, a team-mate of Armstrong's at Motorola, also believes more information could follow. Anderson told www.cyclingnews.com: "I guess it's good to hear it from the horse's mouth, finally.

"It wasn't what I expected. I think the hype that was generated before was greater than what was actually revealed. Whether it was intended that way, for people to stay on until tomorrow I'm not sure.

"But he didn't seem to reveal anything that hasn't been leaked or we haven't read in (Tyler) Hamilton's book. Maybe that's going to come out tomorrow. He hasn't pulled anything out of the hat yet."

World Anti-Doping Agency chief executive John Fahey insists chemical evidence shows Armstrong did dope during his comeback years - in 2009 and 2010 - despite the Texan's claims to the contrary.

"The evidence from USADA is that Armstrong's blood tests show variations in his blood that show with absolute certainty he was doping after 2005," Fahey told The Daily Telegraph.

"Believe USADA or believe Armstrong? I know who to believe.

"It struck me that the statute of limitations under US law might be relevant and Armstrong would not want to admit to anything in regards to his comeback (in 2009) that might be picked up under the US criminal code.

"This bloke is a cheat and did my view of him change after watching the interview? No."