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Is Lance Armstrong Trying To Return To Triathlon?

  • By Liz Hichens
  • Published Jan 18, 2013
  • Updated 3 days ago
Armstrong's first 70.3 was on Feb. 12, 2012 in Panama. He finished second. Photo: Kurt Hoy

Is Lance Armstrong’s doping confession part of a bigger plan to return to competing in triathlon?

One question in this Lance Armstrong discussion that has so far been left unanswered is “why now?” Why is the disgraced cycling star choosing to come forward and admit to doping during his seven Tour de France victories?

When Oprah asked Armstrong why he is confessing now his answer was simply, “That’s the best question. That’s the most logical question. I don’t know that I have a great answer. I’ll start my answer by saying this is too late. This is too late for probably most people.”

We’ve only seen one of two parts of the Oprah interview, but a teaser for the second segment features a question many of us in multisport are wanting to know the answer to.

“A lot of people think you’re doing this interview because they you want to come back to the sport? Is that a part of the reason?”

Though she says “the sport,” in reference to cycling, speculation is growing that the admission, and the fact that he says he never crossed “the line” after his 2005 Tour de France victory, are part of a plan to try to return to competing in triathlon.

When the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA) announced its investigation in June of 2012, Armstrong was in the middle of attempting to qualify for the 2012 Ironman World Championship. He had competed in five 70.3 events and had won his last two (70.3 Florida and 70.3 Hawaii). He was just days away from his Ironman debut in Nice, France, when USADA broke the news, and the World Triathlon Corporation (after some debate) was forced to ban Armstrong from competing.

So is Armstrong trying to return to that campaign to get to the Ironman World Championship, or maybe even just compete in triathlons in general?

An article posted on the Wall Street Journal’s website titled “Behind Lance Armstrong’s Decision to Talk” suggests that the Oprah interview may be part of an attempt to return to multisport.

“With the holidays approaching, Mr. Armstrong retreated to Kailua-Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island, with his partner, Anna Hansen, and his young children and friends—a place considered the spiritual home of the triathlon. He directed his lawyers to focus on figuring out how he could get back to competing in sanctioned triathlons, which he saw as his most reliable source of future income, according to one person familiar with that effort.

“Mr. Armstrong had begun making overtures to USADA about striking some kind of deal—admit to past doping in exchange for a reduction in his lifetime ban, according to two people familiar with the effort.”

Armstrong is 41 years old and would need a significant reduction in the lifetime ban to have any chance at being competitive as a professional triathlete. This is where the fact that Armstrong says he never used performance-enhancing drugs after 2005 may come into play. The year 2005 is key because if the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) does reduce his lifetime ban, their code says that the sentence can be reduced to no less than eight years. An eight-year ban beginning in 2005 would bring us to 2013. Does that mean he could compete this year if the sentence was reduced?

That is a big “if.” Immediately after the Armstrong admission aired, USADA CEO Travis Tygart called for Armstrong to testify under oath.

“Tonight, Lance Armstrong finally acknowledged that his cycling career was built on a powerful combination of doping and deceit,” Tygart said. “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.”

If Armstrong chooses to testify and the ban is lifted, he would be allowed to return to racing in Ironman events.

“If he’s eligible to race, he can race, but Lance has been controversial in our community from the beginning,” Ironman CEO Andrew Messick told Espn.com columnist Bonnie Ford while in Melbourne, Australia. In her column, Ford also stated that Messick said that under no circumstances would the WTC abandon its status as a WADA signatory to accommodate Armstrong or anyone else.

Will Armstrong testify under oath? Will WADA reduce Armstrong’s lifetime ban? Would the reduction allow Armstrong to compete as early as this year? What would the reception from the triathlon community for a known cheater be? What companies (if any) would sponsor Armstrong?

These are all questions that may or may not be answered in the coming weeks.

Part two of the interview will air on OWN and stream live at Oprah.com Friday at 9pm EST. Visit Live.velonews.com for live commentary and analysis of the interview.

RELATED:
- Armstrong Doping Confession: Key Quotes
- Lance Armstrong Admits To Doping During Cycling Career
- Lance Armstrong: Time To Rebuild
- Lance Armstrong Admits Doping In Oprah Interview
- Armstrong Loses Sponsorship
- Photos: Behind The Scenes With Lance Armstrong At SuperFrog
- Lance Armstrong: “I Am Not Banned From Life”
- Photos: Lance Armstrong’s Return To Triathlon
- Behind The Lance Ban: A Talk With WTC CEO Andrew Messick
- Photos: Lance Armstrong Storms The Big Island

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Liz Hichens

Liz Hichens

Liz Hichens is the Web Producer of Triathlete.com. She is an Ironman and marathon finisher and fan of all endurance sports.

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