Armstrong and CIRC: Questions were limited, reduction in lifetime ban thought unlikely

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Although Lance Armstrong recently gave the impression that he was fully cooperative with the Cycling Independent Reform Commission, telling the BBC that he gave full details in two meetings with the independent body, it appears that version of events may be misleading.

“I have met them twice, they have asked me not to go into details, but everybody knows I have met with them, so that is not a secret,” he told the BBC in a long interview broadcast at the end of January.

“I think it’s safe for me to say that whatever questions they asked, I told. A lot of it is out there. So I don’t know if there’s a whole lot out there left, but I was totally honest, and I was totally transparent.”

He repeated this at later point in the same interview, again giving the impression that he was fully cooperative.

“I don’t want to get into what they have asked, or didn’t ask. All I will say is that whatever they asked, I answered.”

However CyclingTips understands that the impression given is a misleading one. According to multiple sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Armstrong’s lawyers imposed strict controls on the questions that CIRC was able to put to the Texan.

Those barriers meant that the scope of the two meetings were greatly limited, thus preventing CIRC from being able to fully scrutinise the disqualified seven-time Tour de France winner.

While Armstrong has already been found guilty of long term doping and other charges and handed a lifetime ban, the details of how he was able to dope for so long without detection was one of the areas that anti-doping authorities were keen to explore.

He admitted his own drug use in a January 2013 interview on the Oprah Winfrey show but told her that he was not able to go into detail about certain subjects.

The various court cases he was facing were thought to be factors in that. However Armstrong said during that interview that he would be the first to give evidence when an independent commission was established, and that he wouldn’t hold back.

CIRC was set up one year ago and set about contacting a large number of people that it felt might be helpful to its aim of investigating the Armstrong/US Postal doping affair, the UCI’s conduct around that time and other factors relating to drug use in cycling.

Armstrong reiterated on several occasions that he planned to be fully transparent, and repeatedly gave the impression that he had been during the BBC interview.

“Nobody wants to hear how I think I’ve been mistreated, or how I think my punishment should be lifted, or tweaked, or reduced. Nobody wants to hear me say that, nobody cares what I think about this. I get it,” he said.

“But I have done everything I said I would do. Honestly, in the last two years, I’ve made good on everything I said.

“We’ve talked about the international commission, I said I’d be the first guy through the door, I did it.”

It now appears, from what sources have told CyclingTips, that transparency was limited.

CIRC’s final report is due to be sent to the UCI shortly. The governing body will then examine it, considering the sporting and legal implications of the conclusions reached. It has pledged to publish the full report and to name names where possible, although it said that some redactions may be necessary.

CIRC is thought to have the ability to recommend reductions in relation to sanctions that have been handed down, although the ultimate decision will rest with either the UCI or with the national sporting bodies concerned.

Armstrong’s interview with the BBC made the case for a reduction of his own lifetime ban, with the American saying that blocking him served nobody and was over the top.

“It’s frustrating in the sense that I still think I could be competing at some sport at a fairly high level, which nobody cares about. Nobody wants to hear me say that,” he said.

He then used the emotive example of not being able to run events such as the Boston Marathon for charity as an example where he felt his ban was unfair.

However CyclingTips understands that a reduction in his ban is highly unlikely; in fact, sources have indicated that Armstrong already knows this to be the case and is extremely frustrated that his cooperation – limited as it was by a tight control on the questions – did not pay off.

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