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Cycling: Armstrong must go further says Tour chief

Lance Armstrong looks back on the podium after the 20th and last stage of the 2010 Tour de France cycling race in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski, File)

Lance Armstrong looks back on the podium after the 20th and last stage of the 2010 Tour de France cycling race in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski, File)

THE race director of the Tour de France has called on Lance Armstrong to go further in his admissions of using performance enhancing drugs.

Christian Prudhomme was in Sheffield on Friday to discuss with council officials the route and logistics of stage two of next year’s race which will take the cyclists from York to the city.

But with Armstrong’s interview with American chat show host Oprah Winfrey dominating the sports headlines he told The Star that the disgraced Texan must now say more.

He said: “No one would have said a few weeks ago that Armstrong would have admitted publicly to have doped.

“But now he has to go further than that and say how, when and who has helped him to do this.

“You can’t do what he did alone.”

After years of denials, the 41-year-old Texan told Winfrey that he had used the blood-boosting agent EPO, as well as taking testosterone, human growth hormone, cortisone and blood doping.

In the much-anticipated interview Armstrong, who last October was stripped of all his seven Tour titles, said that at the time of his drug-taking he did not feel it was wrong.

He said he did not feel bad about taking performance-enhancing drugs, nor did he feel it was cheating, as he was creating a level playing field with other riders who took drugs.

He said: “I looked up the definition of a cheat: to gain an advantage. I didn’t view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field.”

But he said he had now changed his opinion, telling her: “I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and trying to apologise to people. For the rest of my life.

“I see the anger in people. And betrayal. It’s all there. These are people that supported me, believed in me. They have every right to feel betrayed. And it’s my fault.

“I will spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologise to people.

“I made my decisions. They are my mistake. I am sitting here today to acknowledge that and to say I’m sorry for that. I deserve this.”

He added: “I’m happier today than I was then.”

Armstrong told Winfrey he felt doping was necessary to win the Tour de France.

He said: “That’s like saying we have to have air in our tyres or water in our bottles. It was part of the job.

“I don’t want to make any excuses, but that was my view and I made those decisions.”

Armstrong, who has been stripped of all his results from August 1, 1998 and banned from sport for life, denied doping during his comeback from retirement in 2009 and 2010.

The head of the US Anti-Doping Agency said Armstrong’s admission was “a small step in the right direction”.

Travis Tygart, the boss of the organisation that brought charges against the American cyclist, said in a statement: “Tonight, Lance Armstrong finally acknowledged that his cycling career was built on a powerful combination of doping and deceit.

“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.”

Former British Olympic cyclist Nicole Cooke said she felt the situation appeared “staged”.

She told BBC Breakfast: “I think that we really need to get a proper investigation now that Lance is saying these things. It has to be heard in front of law to actually get to the bottom of this.”

Asked if she thought people were told the truth, Cooke, who won gold in Beijing in 2008, said: “I think we had some truth from Lance, but he was very guarded about certain things.

“I think there is still more to come out, I think we do need to hear names now... It is not just Lance by himself.

“There are doctors supplying him and people around him helping him, and we need to get into more than just the one athlete.”

British Cycling president Brian Cookson told BBC Breakfast that Armstrong seemed sorry for getting caught rather than for using drugs.

He said: “It always has been cheating. It’s always been against the rules. It’s always been banned substances - there’s a clue in the name, as they say.

“He knew very well what he was doing. I don’t accept that argument that he was going up on a level playing field.

“I think he’s got a lot of explaining to do, he’s got a lot of recompensing to do. He’s got a long way to go yet before he earns any degree of forgiveness as far as I’m concerned.”

* Follow The Star sports writer Richard Fidler on Twitter @richardfidler. For breaking news keep checking The Star website or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sheffieldstar or Twitter at www.twitter.com/sheffieldstar

 

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