Whatever its impact on the broader public, the first of Lance Armstrong’s two nights of televised confession appeared to have little positive effect on the cycling and antidoping communities.
Several members of both groups faulted the former cyclist for the vagueness of his confession, particularly around sensitive matters, and its lack of apology, particularly toward people he attacked for telling the truth in the past. Many characterized Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey as being more self-serving that revelatory.
“He spoke to a talk-show host,” David Howman, the executive director of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said from Montreal on Friday. “I don’t think any of it amounted to assistance to the antidoping community, let alone substantial assistance. You bundle it all up and say, ‘So what?’ ”
Howman said that several of Armstrong’s statements were not accurate descriptions of events, adding that if he was serious about clearing the air he needed to give testimony under oath and cross-examination. While Armstrong’s representatives frequently contacted Howman when the cyclist was still racing, they have not communicated with WADA since the United States Anti-Doping Agency found that Mr. Armstrong had used performance-enhancing drugs and techniques.
“Nothing we’ve seen indicates that Usada got it wrong and that the lifetime ban should be reversed,” he said.
Richard Pound, the founding chairman of WADA and a member of the International Olympic Committee, also said he was unmoved.
“If what he’s looking for is some kind of reconstruction of his image instead of providing entertainment with Oprah Winfrey, he’s got a long way to go,” Pound said from his Montreal office. “He’s certainly going to have to be more forthcoming.”
The strongest reaction in the immediate aftermath of the interview came from Betsy Andreu, the wife of a former Armstrong teammate, Frankie Andreu. She testified at an insurance arbitration that she heard Armstrong, while under cancer treatment, outline the performance-enhancing drugs he had used. Armstrong responded with vicious and personal attacks on her, often calling her crazy. In Thursday’s broadcast he did not confirm that her testimony had, in fact, been true, nor did he offer an explicit apology for his attacks.
“He owed it to me,” Betsy Andreu said on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” after the Armstrong interview. “You owed it to me, Lance, and you dropped the ball. After what you’ve done to me and what you’ve done to my family, and you couldn’t own up to it?”
An earlier target of Armstrong’s bullying was similarly unimpressed. Christophe Bassons was the only member of the Festina team to be cleared by the investigation that followed a series of police raids that almost brought the 1998 Tour de France to a close. He quit the Tour the next year after Armstrong made vague threats to him for speaking out against doping during the race. Armstrong then went on to win the first of his seven performance-enhanced Tours.
Speaking to RMC, a French radio network, Bassons said that he was surprised by the lack of detail in Armstrong’s admission. While he allowed that more may be offered in Friday’s interview or that Armstrong may be waiting to tell cycling and antidoping officials the full story, he speculated that the American cyclist has another motive.
“I think he has political ambitions,” Bassons told the broadcaster. “He’s maintaining his image as someone who is very courageous, very tough.”
Jeffrey M. Tillotson, the lawyer for the insurance company that unsuccessfully tried not to pay Tour de France win bonuses to Armstrong on the basis that he had cheated, said his client, SCA Promotions, would make a decision about suing Armstrong over the weekend. If it proceeds, the company will seek $12 million, a sum representing the bonuses, which had been insured by Armstrong’s team, as well as legal fees.
“There was an eerie sense of emotionless cool about him,” Tillotson said. “It seemed to us that he was more sorry that he had been caught than for what he had done.”
He added: “If he’s serious about rehabbing himself, he needs to start making amends to the people he bullied and vilified, and he needs to start paying money back.”
One of the few organizations with anything positive to offer about Armstrong was the International Cycling Union, which is more commonly known by its initials in French, U.C.I.
During the interview with Winfrey, Armstrong flatly dismissed widespread allegations that he had persuaded the governing body to cover up a positive drug test for him and that a financial donation he later made to it was effectively hush money.
In a statement, Pat McQuaid, the body’s president, said Armstrong made “an important step forward on the long road to repairing the damage that has been caused to cycling and to restoring confidence in the sport.”
McQuaid noted the cyclist’s denial that the organization had been involved in any cover-up.
“Lance Armstrong also rightly said that cycling is a completely different sport today than it was 10 years ago,” he said. “In particular, the U.C.I.’s introduction of the biological passport in 2008 — the first sports federation to do so — has made a real difference in the fight against doping.”
On Friday Valérie Fourneyron, the sports minister in France, joined the call for Armstrong, as well as all other others involved in doping, to offer formal, detailed testimony under oath.
It is essential that other athletes break the wall of silence, she told Agence France-Presse in a statement. “This ‘omerta’ weighs heavily on athletes and is a drag on cycling, a popular sport we must save.”
And in a statement in which it also called on Armstrong to present evidence to antidoping officials, the International Olympic Committee said: “This is indeed a very sad day for sport, but there is a positive side if these revelations can begin to draw a line under previous practices.”