Raise your hand – not to Oprah, but court of law

Cycling’s governing bodies want Armstrong on a bench not a couch

Confessing to a talk-show host is one thing, but the International Cycling Union and the World Anti-Doping Agency want Lance Armstrong to raise his right hand in oath in court. “Only when Mr. Armstrong makes a full confession under oath ... can any legal and proper process for him to seek any reopening or reconsideration of his lifetime ban commence,” WADA director general David Howman said. Enlarge photo

Laurent Rebours/Associated Press file photo

Confessing to a talk-show host is one thing, but the International Cycling Union and the World Anti-Doping Agency want Lance Armstrong to raise his right hand in oath in court. “Only when Mr. Armstrong makes a full confession under oath ... can any legal and proper process for him to seek any reopening or reconsideration of his lifetime ban commence,” WADA director general David Howman said.

LONDON – Lance Armstrong must make a full confession under oath – not just an admission in a television interview with Oprah Winfrey – if he wants authorities to consider lifting his lifetime ban from sports, the director of the World Anti-Doping Agency said Tuesday.

WADA director general David Howman told The Associated Press that Armstrong’s interview with Winfrey is “hardly the same as giving evidence to a relevant authority” that deals with doping rules and sanctions.

“He’s got to follow a certain course,” Howman said. “That is not talking to a talk-show host.”

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from Olympic sports last year after a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report that portrayed him as a longtime performance-enhancing drug user. After years of denials, he confessed to doping during an interview with Winfrey taped Monday.

Armstrong has been in conversations with USADA about a possible confession to authorities and a path to restoring his eligibility.

Howman said a reduced ban is possible depending on the level of cooperation.

“Is he trying to do something for himself to have the sanctions changed?” Howman said. “Does he want to do something for the benefit of the sport itself? In both instances, he will need to make a full statement on oath.”

International Olympic Committee vice president Thomas Bach said Armstrong should provide a complete confession to USADA or WADA.

“The TV interview is not the right platform,” he told the AP.

The International Cycling Union, meanwhile, has been accused of covering up suspicious samples from Armstrong, accepting financial donations from him and helping him avoid detection in doping tests.

However, WADA and USADA each complained later Tuesday that the UCI panel is failing to offer amnesty to potential witnesses, which will discourage people from coming forward. The three-member UCI commission, chaired by retired British judge Philip Otton, will meet in London on April 9-26, with a June 1 deadline to deliver its report.

Bach, a German lawyer who leads the IOC’s anti-doping investigations, said a limited admission of doping by Armstrong will not be enough.

“This is not new,” he said. “If he says in general terms that he used prohibited substances, for himself and his reputation it would come a little late. For the fight against doping, it would not help. He has to show how he managed to get around the tests and whether there was somebody who helped him.”

In a statement from Montreal, Howman said WADA had followed “with interest” the reports of Armstrong’s confession, but more was needed.

“While WADA encourages all athletes to come clean about any doping activities they have been involved with or know about, these details must be passed on to the relevant anti-doping authorities,” he said.

“Only when Mr. Armstrong makes a full confession under oath – and tells the anti-doping authorities all he knows about doping activities – can any legal and proper process for him to seek any reopening or reconsideration of his lifetime ban commence.”

AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this report.