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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Armstrong show 'pantomime' blasted

Published 18/01/2013 | 04:35

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Oprah Winfrey interviews Lance Armstrong in Austin, Texas (AP/Courtesy of Harpo Studios, Inc, George Burns)

Suspicion, anger and a cloud of unanswered questions hung in the air after Lance Armstrong's long-awaited TV confession that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his garlanded cycling career.

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Armstrong finally admitted to having using banned drugs during his record seven Tour de France victories. The first instalment of his two-part television interview with chat show queen Oprah Winfrey seemed to have brought little sympathy for the shamed former sporting hero.

A frustrated Sir Chris Hoy, Britain's most successful Olympian with six gold medals, spent the day having to defend his sport because of the "greed & deception of a small minority", he said on social networking site Twitter.

Sir Chris, who found his appearance at the London Bike Show dominated by questions about Armstrong, tweeted: "My team-mates and I will keep doing what we have always done; compete clean and try to win gold medals to show the next generation that it IS possible." Nicole Cooke, the 2008 Olympic road race champion, branded the prime-time interview "a pantomime".

Armstrong admitted drug-taking but has not, so far, named names or revealed how deep the corruption was that allowed him to escape detection for so long, Cooke noted. " Lance Armstrong should have been taken to a court, not to an Oprah Winfrey sofa," she said.

After years of fierce denials, the 41-year-old Texan admitted using the blood-boosting agent EPO, as well as taking testosterone, human growth hormone, cortisone and also admitted blood doping.

He has been banned from sport for life and stripped of all his Tour titles - plus the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The cyclist has been stripped of all his results from August 1, 1998. But he denied to Winfrey that he had doped during his comeback from retirement in 2009 and 2010.

British Cycling president Brian Cookson said he believed Armstrong seemed sorry for getting caught rather than for using drugs. He said: "He knew very well what he was doing. I don't accept that argument that he was going up on a level playing field... He's got a long way to go yet before he earns any degree of forgiveness as far as I'm concerned."

On Armstrong's claim that he stopped doping in 2005, the World Anti Doping Agency president John Fahey said: "The evidence from USADA (the US Anti Doping Agency) is that Armstrong's blood tests show variations in his blood that show with absolute certainty he was doping after 2005."

A global audience heard Armstrong reveal on the Winfrey show that he took performance-enhancing drugs in each of his Tour wins from 1999-2005. He believed doping was "part of the process required to win the Tour" and he did not feel he was cheating at the time. He viewed it as a "level playing field".

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