Armstrong. Ban reduced?
Is USADA about to reduce Lance Armstrong’s lifetime ban? According to a source within the United States Anti-Doping Agency, there is a concerted move to reduce Armstrong’s ban by one year.
The so-called Lifetime Minus One ban would be the first of its kind and would reduce Armstrong’s penalty by twelve months.
“Lance Armstrong ran the most sophisticated doping program in the history of sport but we’re willing to cut him some slack,” said Mike Krakup, a compliance officer at USADA. “We think taking a year off shows we’re not vindictive about this. There’s clemency, there’s compassion.”
While this would indeed reduce his penalty, Armstrong would still be prevented from entering any athletic competitions that are run under the World Anti-Doping Agency charter. This means no triathlons, no mountain bike races and no running or swimming events.
USADA officials outlined the procedures for the new ban at a Tuesday press conference at their headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “So basically, when Lance looks like he’s a year from death — that’s when we lift the ban,” said Krakup. “Then he’s free to do whatever he wants. By all means, get out there and play, Señor Pelota.”
According to the Lifetime Minus One ban, a USADA doctor will monitor Armstrong as the disgraced former seven-time tour winner enters an advanced age. “We’ll do checkups at his old folks home or assisted living facility. This will all be careful and well-monitored. Once we determine he’s only got a year left to live, ban lifted,” explained Krakup.
So far the response from the Armstrong camp has been negative. “Really? Seriously? They’re taking one year off a lifetime ban? What kind of deal is that?” says Armstrong attorney Steve Fibby. “What other evidence do you need that this is a personal vendetta for Travis Tygart. He knows Lance can’t do anything in his nineties.”
However, USADA officials are quick to point out that this is a significant reduction. “Lifetime is a whole life, right? So now, it’s not a lifetime ban. We think that’s pretty generous,” said Krakup. “Whether Lance decides to resume his athletic career in the final year of his life is up to him — but we’re prepared to give him that opportunity. There are plenty of wheelchair events that I’m sure Armstrong could do well in.”
Armstrong’s former directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel, himself banned from the sport for doping activities, took to twitter to protest the micro-reduction. “This is pointless. Can’t believe witch hunt goes on. #unbelieveable.” Meanwhile, long-time Armstrong foe and ex-teammate Floyd Landis supports the one year reduction. “That is hilarious, man. They are just messing with his head. Look forward to seeing Lance race in the 90-95 age group category,” said Landis.
It remains to be seen whether USADA will in fact pass the Lifetime Minus One ban. A vote is expected shortly and Armstrong lawyers are already counting with a Lifetime Minus Fifty proposal.