Lance Armstrong on forgiveness: ‘We’re getting close to that time’

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Lance Armstrong was asked by the BBC if he was a man on the street, a cycling fan, would he forgive Armstrong now, say it’s time to move on, two years after Armstrong admitted to doping during his career.

“That’s really not fair,” Armstrong said in a wide-ranging interview. “Listen, I’m not going to lie to you. Selfishly, I would say, yeah, we’re getting close to that time, but that’s me. My word doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is ultimately what collectively those people on the street, whether that’s the cycling community, the cancer community, it matters what they think. Listen, of course I want to be out of timeout. I mean, what kid doesn’t?”

Armstrong answered on more topics, including if he thought he should get his seven stripped Tour de France titles back from 1999 to 2005. The titles were not given to the second-place finishers or anyone else. Most of the best cyclists from Armstrong’s era admitted to doping, too, some of whom have not been stripped of Tour accolades.

“It’s not for me to say,” Armstrong said, according to the BBC’s transcript. “If I’m not the winner … I think there has to be a winner. I’m just saying that as a fan.

“If you go to Wikipedia and you look at the Tour de France, there’s this huge block in World War I with no winners, and there’s another block in World War II. And then it seems like there’s another world war. There has to be a winner.

“But I’m not trying to, you know, puff myself up. It was an unfortunate time. It was a terrible time, an imperfect storm … there needs to be a winner.

“I don’t think history is stupid. I can tell you history isn’t stupid. History ultimately rectifies a lot of these things. If you had to ask me what I think happens in 50 years, I don’t think it sits empty in 50 years. Maybe somebody else’s name is there. But you can’t leave it empty.”

Armstrong was also asked if he would take performance-enhancing drugs again.

“It’s a complicated question, and my answer is not a popular answer,” Armstrong said, according to the BBC transcript. “If I was racing in 2015, no, I wouldn’t do it again, because I don’t think you have to do it again. If you take me back to 1995, when it was completely and totally pervasive, I’d probably do it again. People don’t like to hear that.”

Armstrong took issue with facets of his lifetime ban. First, that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency called his U.S. Postal Service team’s systematic doping “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

“Lance Armstrong is not the biggest fraud in the history of world sport,” Armstrong said, according to the BBC transcript. “U.S. Postal was not the most sophisticated doping program. To say that in light of all you read about the East Germans, the West Germans, the Turks, the Russians, God forbid, all the other major sports leagues in the world. No.”

Armstrong said he’s frustrated that he couldn’t do something like, for example, run the Boston Marathon in 4 hours, 15 minutes and raise $100,000 for charity.

“I don’t know how anybody thinks that’s right,” Armstrong said. “Nothing benefits me by going and running a slow marathon.”

Armstrong regretted the timing of his Oprah Winfrey interview in January 2013, saying it “probably needed another three to six months” before happening.

“The fallout has been heavy, maybe heavier than even I thought,” Armstrong told the BBC. “But it seems like there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.”

Greg LeMond against reducing Armstrong’s band

Copenhagen withdraws as 2021 World Gymnastics Championships host, cites pandemic

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Copenhagen withdrew as host of the 2021 World Gymnastics Championships, citing financial strain as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gymnastics worlds are usually not held in Olympic years, but the October 2021 edition remained scheduled when the Tokyo Games were postponed to summer 2021.

Denmark’s gymnastics federation board made the decision to not host worlds due in part to uncertainty about the global development of the coronavirus pandemic. That combined with financial losses already associated with the pandemic led to the bowing out.

The International Gymnastics Federation executive committee will “consider all consequences” from Copenhagen withdrawing, including launching a new bid process.

The 2022 Worlds are set for Liverpool, Great Britain, and 2023 in Antwerp, Belgium. Denmark will look into bidding to host in 2025.

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Allyson Felix, Noah Lyles headline Inspiration Games; TV, stream info

Allyson Felix, Noah Lyles
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In Allyson Felix‘s 17 years on the senior international level, she has never experienced anything like what Thursday will bring.

Felix, a nine-time Olympic medalist, will line up at a track in California to race 150 meters. Her opponents will be on the other side of the country — Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo in Florida — and the other side of the Atlantic Ocean — Swiss Mujinga Kambundji in Zurich.

The Inspiration Games air live on Thursday from 2-3:30 p.m. ET on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. The meet is a repurposed version of a Diamond League stop in Zurich, Switzerland.

“I’ve just been training and training and training, so anything to break it up. … this seemed like something great. I just loved the concept,” said Felix, who memorably raced alone in at the Rio Olympics in a re-run of the 4x100m first round. “I’m not really sure what to expect. I think [it’s] the first time that we’ve all done anything like this. I’m just approaching it to have fun and hopefully give people something to watch and to be entertained by. I think we all miss sports so much.”

Meet organizers had to get creative with the coronavirus pandemic limiting athlete travel and group events. The Impossible Games was first to go on June 11 — in an Oslo stadium with few spectators and even fewer athletes (and others competing in different countries).

The Inspiration Games takes virtual competition to another level. Felix, Miller-Uibo and Kambundji are all slated to sprint at the same time in different locations. As are world champion Noah Lyles, Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre and the Netherlands’ Churandy Martina in a later 200m.

It marks the first meet since the coronavirus pandemic for Felix, bidding to make her fifth Olympic team and first as a mom. The pandemic and restrictions in California forced her to train on streets.

“Everything is still pretty much locked down,” she said. “You can’t get onto a track without jumping a fence.”

Felix admitted she’s “definitely not sharp” going into her first race since February.

“Once we knew for sure that the Olympic Games would be postponed, we really had to think about being at our best a year from now,” said Felix, a 34-year-old bidding to break Michael Johnson‘s record as the oldest Olympic 400m medalist. “In my situation and where I’m at in my career, I had to make some adjustments, just with the level of impact on my body so that I could still be able to continue to train, but to save something and to have that one last time to be at my best next year. I definitely think things have shifted now.”

Lyles raced last Saturday at a small meet in Florida, outsprinting Justin Gatlin in a 100m heat (9.93 seconds to 9.99 with a hefty four meter/second tailwind).

The regular Diamond League calendar is scheduled to resume in August.

Here are the Inspiration Games entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

1:35 p.m. ET — Men’s Pole Vault
1:35 — Women’s Pole Vault
2:05 — Men’s Triple Jump
2:10 — Women’s 150m
2:27 — Men’s 100 Yards
2:41 — Women’s 300m Hurdles
3:06 — Men’s 200m
3:20 — Women’s 3x100m Relay

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s Pole Vault — 1:35 p.m.
Greek Katerina Stefanidi, a Stanford grad, and American Sandi Morris renew their rivalry. Stefanidi will be in California. Morris will be in Florida. Swede Angelica Bengtsson rounds out the field. Stefanidi relegated Morris to silver at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 Worlds. But Morris snapped’ Stefanidi’s streak of eight straight wins in their head-to-head back in 2018 and has bettered Stefanidi in four of their last six meetings.

Men’s Triple Jump — 2:05 p.m.
Double Olympic champion Christian Taylor takes on longtime rival Pedro Pablo Pichardo, a Cuban-born Portuguese, and American Omar Craddock. Taylor bettered Pichardo in five of their last six meetings. In more than 30 meets together, Taylor has lost to Craddock just once (when Taylor has competed in full).

Women’s 150m — 2:10 p.m.
Felix and Miller-Uibo go head to head for the first time since the 2017 World Championships. Their most memorable duel came at the Rio Olympics, where a diving Miller-Uibo edged Felix by .07 for 400m gold. While Miller-Uibo and Felix primarily compete over a full lap, the 150m is closer to Kambundji’s wheelhouse. The Swiss earned 200m bronze at the 2019 World Championships, taking advantage of a depleted field.

Men’s 100 Yards — 2:27 p.m.
Triple Olympic medalist Andre De Grasse of Canada, Olympic 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica and French veteran Jimmy Vicaut all train in Florida and will presumably be racing at the same venue on Thursday. The 100 yards is scantly contested in top-level meets. Nobody has broken nine seconds in a 100-yard (91.44-meter) race, according to World Athletics. But Usain Bolt‘s estimated 100-yard time en route to his 2009 world record in the 100m was 8.87 seconds.

Men’s 200m — 3:06 p.m.
Lyles has lost an outdoor 200m just once in this Olympic cycle and wouldn’t normally be pestered by Lemaitre or Martina, but these are unusual times and this an unusual competition. Lemaitre is the Olympic bronze medalist but was sixth at last year’s French Championships. Martina, 36, and, like Lemaitre, hasn’t broken 20 seconds in more than three years.

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