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Local Cyclists Await More Details of Armstrong Confession

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey scheduled to air Thursday, Lance Armstrong admits using performance enhancing drugs during his professional cycling career.

There are thousands of avid cyclists in Philadelphia and the surrounding area, and Linda McGrane is certain each one has their own, separate opinion about Lance Armstrong and his admission of doping during his professional cycling career.

"There are some who suspected it all along and are very disillusioned by him," said McGrane, vice president and former president of the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia. "There are also some who are still inspired by his fight against cancer and the work hs foundation has done."

According to a report by the Associated Press, Armstrong confessed to using performance enhancing drugs during a taped interview with Oprah Winfrey that will air Thursday night on Winfrey's OWN network (check local listings). It is still unknown what exactly Armstrong told Winfrey, but a source tells the AP that prior to the interview on Monday, Armstrong apologized to staff at the New York headquarters of Livestrong, a cancer support network he founded in 1997.

"He expressed his regret for the stress the team suffered in recent years as a result of the controversy surrounding his cycling career," states a release from the Livestrong Foundation. "He asked that they stay focused on serving people affected by cancer, something our team has always done excellently and will continue to do."

McGrane says she has heard opinions through personal conversations and by listening to talk radio, and while there are plenty of strong reactions, many just want more information.

"Many cyclists that I have spoken to want more of the truth to unfold," said McGrane. "Why choose this moment to confess? How widespread is this problem? There's still a lot of truth to be told."

It's impossible for McGrane to deny the impact Armstrong's story had on the sport of cycling. After getting diagnosed in 1996 with testicular cancer, which also infected his lungs and brain, Armstrong underwent treatments that eventually eliminated the disease and, by 1998, returned to competitive cycling as a member of the US Postal/Discovery team. Between 1999 and 2005, Armstrong placed first in seven consecutive Tour de France races.

His incredible comeback from cancer made Armstrong a household name and an instantly recognizable face for the cycling world. Armstrong graced magazine covers, racked up major endorsements, appeared in film and television shows and dated celebrities such as musician Sheryl Crow.

Doping allegations began popping up in 2004, accusations that Armstrong vehemently denied, calling them "witch hunts" and, in one case, earning a $500,000 settlement from London's Sunday Times during a libel suit. The newspaper is seeking to recover the money, plus interest and the cost of defending the case, in a $1.5 million lawsuit filed in December 2012.

The accusations reached a fever pitch last year when the United States Anti-Doping Agency released a 1,000-page detailed report accusing Armstrong of engaging in a major doping scheme. The fallout from the report included the International Cycling Union stripping Armstrong of his Tour de France titles, the loss of major endorsements and stepped down as chairman of Livestrong.

McGrane says that the positive impact that Armstrong earned at the height of his career could continue during his fall from grace, shining more light on an issue that gets more attention in other sports. A few weeks ago, the voting members of the Baseball Hall of Fame declined induction to players that are suspected of using performance enhancing drugs, such as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens.

"If we want cycling to be a legitimate competitive sport, then the athletes must receive the same amount of scrutiny as baseball and football," said McGrane. "This could just be the beginning of a much larger problem."

Mark Glidden January 17, 2013 at 12:48 PM
The most disappointing thing about this story and many others like it is that kids see that the most visible in our society don't play by the rules. The example it sets is incredibly disappointing. I wanted so badly to believe that Lance was the exception. It doesn't kill my faith in mankind, we are all flawed, but it does add one more reason for skepticism.
Jason Gutekunst January 17, 2013 at 01:13 PM
I hope he is sued endlessly and left so poor that he cant even afford a box. Its pathetic that people think endless lying is ok. Its a shame he cant be put behind bars for fraud, I would like him to spend some quality time in jail. Most likely he will lay low for awhile, come out 10 years from now crying and write a book about how sad his actions made him and everyone will eat it up.
Lisa January 17, 2013 at 01:37 PM
My question, what else did he? He beat cancer that spread through out his body and still looks good. Maybe he should share his secrets to help others. Maybe we can find "some" good in this whole situation.
Jules January 17, 2013 at 05:00 PM
You either win or you are a loser in sports. What would we all do to be a winner on such a grand scale? I think the demons he has inside his head have to be immense and will never leave him. He's receiving his public shaming - whether his apology is sincere on not - he will be classed as a loser by many. That puts him inside a figurative cage. I never believed he was clean - but I choose to admire him anyway. Not that I do not believe in honesty of the heart; I teach it to my children with fervor. However, there are parts of him that are so heroic that I can't deny that I am in awe of those parts. The mental determination to work so hard to recover from an almost death sentence is at the top of my list.
Nicole January 17, 2013 at 09:21 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/17/sports/cycling/hard-questions-for-lance-armstrong.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

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