Lance Armstrong will be asked to hand back his Olympic medal once his confession of doping is broadcast later this week.
The shamed icon will be written to by the IOC after telling Oprah Winfrey that, despite years of denials, his seven Tour de France titles were fuelled by illegal stimulants — an admission that last night prompted the world’s leading crusader against drugs in sport to question cycling’s place in the Olympic Games.
Dick Pound, an IOC member and the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said if the governing International Cycling Union (UCI) are complicit in Armstrong’s doping offences, ‘the only way they are going to clean up is if all these people say, “Hey, we’re no longer in the Olympics and that’s where we want to be so let’s earn our way back into it”.
‘The IOC would have to deal with it. The UCI are not known for their strong actions in anti-doping. It was the same in weightlifting a few years ago. All of a sudden when you get right up against it things go fuzzy and they say, “Well, we can’t punish innocent athletes in these sports by dropping the sport from the program”.’
It is understood that the IOC would see the expulsion of such a prominent Olympic sport as a last resort despite claims that Armstrong bribed the UCI. The retention of Olympic cycling would suit British interests given that the country won 26 medals in the sport in the last two Games combined.
The IOC are, however, minded to move against Armstrong at speed, only delaying taking away the time-trial bronze he won at Sydney 2000 until the interview is broadcast.
The bleak news mounted up for Armstrong last night with Pound’s former organisation, WADA, insisting that the TV mea culpa will not result in his lifetime ban from sport being overturned.
They told Armstrong that giving evidence ‘under oath’ — rather than to America’s talk show queen — was the only conceivable way he could compete again in his favourite post-cycling pursuit, triathlon.
Those sobering words arrived after Winfrey appeared on the CBS This Morning programme to talk up her exclusive interview.
She confirmed that the 41-year-old Texan finally admitted to cheating. But hinting at an unexpected turn of events, Winfrey teased: ‘He did not come clean in the manner I expected.’
Asked if Armstrong was contrite, Winfrey said: ‘I choose not to characterise. I would rather people make their own decisions. I thought he was serious. I thought he certainly prepared himself for this moment. He met the moment.’
The schmaltz did not impress WADA’s director general David Howman, who said in a statement: ‘Only when Mr Armstrong makes a full confession under oath, and tells the anti-doping authorities all he knows about doping activities, can any legal and proper process for him to seek any reopening or reconsideration of his lifetime ban commence.’
Sportsmail understands that in a cynical attempt to rehabilitate himself, Armstrong has contacted the US authorities to tell him he is willing to name other sporting dopers. It has also emerged that last month he walked out of a meeting with US Anti-Doping Agency boss Travis Tygart after failing to engineer a reduction in his ban.
After the interview, Winfrey took the film away personally ‘in my bag along with dog food’ ahead of its broadcast in Britain on the Discovery Channel at 2am on Friday morning, with the second part the following day.
Armstrong is being assailed by lawsuits — potentially including one from US Postal, his former team — so we can be sure as ever the fallen star is calculating the cost of his every word. – Daily Mail