Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong today admitted to US talk show host Oprah Winfrey that he used the performance-enhancing drug EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions during his career but claimed he hasn’t doped since 2005.
Armstrong said he did not directly order his team mates to use performance enhancing drugs and that he completed the 2009 and 2010 Tour de France without doping.
When asked if he had doped since his 2005 comeback, Armstrong said “Absolutely not,” adding that 2005 was the last time “I crossed the line.”
Armstrong, who survived testicular cancer and founded the Livestrong charity, described himself as a bully and a jerk, but also as a humanitarian.
David Rowe, Professor of Cultural Research, Institute for Culture and Society at the University of Western Sydney and an expert on sport and media, said Armstrong’s statement that he had not doped since 2005 was “a funny and interesting claim.”
“It’s a bit like saying ‘I have been bad but I partially redeemed myself but I want to redeem myself further by saying sorry a lot of times’,” said Professor Rowe.
Having already confessed to lying, Armstrong may now struggle to get people to believe he has been drug-free since 2005, said Professor Rowe.
“It’s a question of to what degree people see him as a congenital liar,” he said.
Associate Professor Craig Fry, NHMRC Career Development Fellow and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing at Victoria University said the “question of whether Armstrong used banned substances or doped in some way after 2005 is irrelevant now.”
“I think the most interesting issue here is his level of responsibility for the culture of doping and cheating in cycling. He has been portrayed as being at the centre of it all,” said Professor Fry.
“But Armstrong is right in saying I didn’t invent the culture’. History shows us it has been a part of elite cycling since its earliest days.”
James Heathers, PhD Candidate in Applied Physiology at the University of Sydney, said “it’s entirely possibly he is telling the truth.”
“He will have samples – either with USADA (the US Anti-Doping Agency) or the UCI (International Cycling Union) – there will be some samples somewhere that are recent. So if he is going to make that claim, I am going to hope, for his sake, it’s not vexatious because there’s probably a sample in that time period that can be tested,” said Mr Heathers.
“What he is saying is he only used performance enhancing drugs while he was on the Tour de France but in the last couple of years [he] stopped,” he said.
“It’s like someone going to the Olympics and winning two golds while taking performance enhancing drugs but then going to the Oceania Masters and saying ‘Well didn’t use drugs there!’.”