Cycling

Armstrong 'crazy' to come clean

2013-01-13 14:04
Lance Armstrong (File)

Washington - Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong could lose much more than his already ravaged reputation if he confesses to doping this week during a television interview with Oprah Winfrey - he could end up in jail.

The disgraced Texan's decision to talk to the famed US talk show host has divided opinion, as some say he needs to do something radical to rehabilitate his public profile, while others say speaking out will only make matters once.

The crux of the matter is whether Armstrong, having been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, will finally admit that he was a drugs cheat. Such a confession would overturn more than a decade of strenuous denials.

"If I were his lawyer, I'd be telling him not to do it. I think he's crazy," said Peter Keane, law professor at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, of the cyclist's decision to give the interview, which will be aired on Thursday.

"He's in considerable jeopardy of some sort of criminal prosecution... for which he could go to prison," Keane said.

The threats to Armstrong's liberty stem from the fallen icon's role in the US Postal Service team, where he spent his most successful years in the saddle.

Having been paid by the government, the former team leader could face criminal charges for making fraudulent statements to his bosses.

He could also be accused of perjury over disclosures made under oath to a US federal jury in 2005. If convicted, each false statement could lead to five years in jail.

Armstrong has always maintained that he did not use banned substances during his stellar career, but in August last year he chose not to contest charges put forward by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that he was a serial drugs cheat.

The pitfalls of speaking to Winfrey, considered the favoured TV forum for "tell all" confessional style interviews, appear to have been weighed, and a decision taken that it is worthwhile to reveal something new.

"I'm anticipating a major announcement," said Jordan Kobritz, chair of the State University of New York at Cortland's International Sport Management graduate program, noting that Armstrong would otherwise have no reason to talk.

"You don't have to go on Oprah to do what he's been doing in his entire athletic life, and that is deny, deny and deny that he ever engaged in illegal drugs," Kobritz said, agreeing with Keane that perjury and criminal charges are possible.

One possibility is that justice officials in California will re-open a file they closed last year concerning alleged drug use and misuse of funds when Armstrong was with the US Postal Service team.

Another case that could come back to haunt the cyclist is an arbitration hearing in Dallas in 2005 where he said under oath that he had never taken banned substances, a statement which raises the specter of perjury charges.

But Armstrong's profile, albeit diminished, as a cancer survivor who raised awareness and hundreds of millions of dollars to fight the disease, is likely the chip that could spare him the worst possible outcome.

"Regardless of whether he comes out and makes a flat admission, I guarantee there will still be a majority of US citizens who will say 'I don't care what he did, he's still my hero,'" Kobritz said, citing Armstrong's cancer survival.

"Unless there's a prosecutor who wants to stake his reputation and his future political career," on putting Armstrong in the dock, "I suspect they're going to leave him alone," Kobritz added.

But Michael McCann, director of the sports law institute at Vermont Law School, said there could be an upside to speaking out, if not immediately then in the mid-term, even if that means going to jail beforehand for perjury.

"It wouldn't be five years, but it could be six months, any amount of time would be pretty bad," he said.

But there could be "a sense of coming clean, having a cleaner conscience... public forgiveness, and relief maybe," added McCann, who is soon to head up a new sports and entertainment law institute at the University of New Hampshire.

Read more on:    lance armstrong  |  cycling
NEXT ON SPORT24X

Fans unite to bid farewell

2014-10-30 22:23

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
12 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 

10 facts about swimming you didn't know

This will make you want to jump right into the pool.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Snors with a cause - creating awareness of male health
Inspiring: Rock climbing with just one leg
Watch! Skateboarders racing cyclists
Exciting new zipline for Cape Town!
 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Featured

Got something you'd like to get off your chest? Got a burning desire to air an opinion? If so, be sure to sign-up on Sport24's FORUM!

Latest blogs
Vote

Besides the 'Big 3' of rugby, cricket and soccer, which of the 'smaller' sports in South Africa do you enjoy the most?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.