After a decade of denials, Lance Armstrong admitted to Oprah Winfrey in a Monday interview that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France, an informed source tells The Associated Press. The former cycling champion, who has been stripped of his seven Tour titles, had long insisted that he never cheated, even after former teammates from the U.S. Postal Service team implicated him in what the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's chief executive, Travis Tygart, called "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen." If reports of Armstrong's confession, set to air Thursday on Winfrey's OWN network, prove to be true, what does Armstrong stand to gain?
1. Opening up to Oprah is step one in his rehabilitation
An emotional confession on Oprah's couch is a time-honored ritual for fallen heroes, says David Carr at The New York Times, and it's the first step in Armstrong's bid for rehabilitation. Of course, Armstrong's alleged confession would mean that the critics he slammed for years were right all along, making this possibly "one of the most ungainly U-turns in the history of sport." With the denials finally behind him, Armstrong "has a very long distance to travel," just as he did when he came back after beating testicular cancer to win a stunning string of Tour de France crowns. This time, however, "there will be no shortcuts."
2. Armstrong could get his lifetime ban from Olympic sports lifted
There have been reports that Armstrong plans to come clean and testify against his former doctors and trainers, says Patrick Hruby at The Atlantic. Why? "In exchange for a lifting of his current lifetime ban from participating in Olympics sports, like Triathlon, which Armstrong just happens to compete in." This isn't about fessing up and "doing what's right. It's about doing what's right for Lance. Always and forever." If he's really honest, he'll admit he's not sorry — "he's only truly sorry he got caught."
3. He could help put the sport on the road to recovery
The report of Armstrong's confession is "very emotional and very sad," Betsy Andreu, wife of former Armstrong teammate Frankie Andreu and one of the first people to publicly accuse him of doping, tells BBC News. If he comes clean completely, he could help the sport of cycling recover from the damage he and others who participated in widespread cheating have caused. "Lance could have a positive impact if he tells the truth on everything. He's got to be completely honest."