Lance Armstrong, at peace with consequences, faces lifelong commitment

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Six years since being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, Lance Armstrong is at peace with decisions made as a young cyclist — many of them mistakes, he says now — and how he handles the consequences he brought on himself decades later.

In “Lance Armstrong: Next Stage,” he looked back on the early choices to join cycling’s doping culture and, later as the face of the sport, taking on critics with the same ruthless mentality he used to ascend the Alps and Pyrenees. Armstrong also explained how years of introspection changed how he views what will be a lifelong commitment to handling the impact of his drug use and lying.

The 30-minute, commercial-free special debuts on NBCSN on Wednesday at 11:30 p.m. ET, after Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. Armstrong sat down with Mike Tirico for an in-depth interview.

Armstrong says now it was the wrong decision to take performance-enhancing drugs, but at the time it was necessary to make it in professional cycling in Europe. Doping was spreading if not pervasive when he arrived in the early 1990s.

“I knew there were going to be knives at this fight. Not just fists. I knew there would be knives,” he said. “I had knives, and then one day, people start showing up with guns. That’s when you say, do I either fly back to Plano, Texas, and not know what you’re going to do? Or do you walk to the gun store? I walked to the gun store. I didn’t want to go home.

“I don’t want to make excuses for myself that everybody did it or we never could have won without it. Those are all true, but the buck stops with me. I’m the one who made the decision to do what I did. I didn’t want to go home, man. I was going to stay.”

Another mistake: Going after those who sought to expose him with the same nastiness he used on the bike.

“I couldn’t turn it off. Huge mistake,” he said. “We’d all love to go back in life and have a few do-overs. I never should have taken it on, especially knowing that most of what they said was true.”

Armstrong said he’s traveled the world trying to rectify what he can. That he has apologized to every person that the public might think deserves one. It will never be enough.

Armstrong splits his at-home time between Austin, Texas, and Aspen, Colo. He is a co-founding partner of Next Ventures, an investment firm focusing on the health and wellness industry. He also launched WEDŪ, an endurance-sports brand, that hosts two podcasts that have built decent audiences.

On “The Move,” Armstrong and others dissect endurance sports with an emphasis on cycling’s Grand Tours.

On “The Forward,” Armstrong interviews myriad personalities, from Charles Barkley to Neil deGrasse Tyson. Armstrong believes that asking questions himself produces unique answers.

“Because they see a guy across the table, they know he’s been nuked,” he said. “They feel a sense of protection there that I can almost tell this guy anything because he’s been through everything.”

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Chinese swimmer Sun Yang gets rare open hearing in doping case

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The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said Monday it will hear the World Anti-Doping Agency’s case against three-time Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang on Nov. 15 in front of reporters — possibly even live-streamed — at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace in Montreux, Switzerland.

The hearing won’t be completely open. Registration will be required, and photographers and videographers “will be invited to leave the hearing room after the opening,” CAS said in a statement. But those outside the room may still get a glimpse of the proceedings.

“With the agreement of all parties, it is intended to live stream all or parts of the hearing on the CAS website,” CAS said.

CAS noted that it has only held one prior hearing that wasn’t in a private setting — the 1999 case involving Irish swimmer Michelle Smith de Bruin, who won three gold medals in the 1996 Olympics but was banned for four years for tampering with a urine sample, a case that still prompts soul-searching in the Irish media. De Bruin lost the appeal.

Sun is accused of smashing a vial of blood at a drug test last fall. FINA allowed him to continue to compete, but the WADA has appealed, seeking a substantial suspension.

The Chinese swimmer won two gold medals at the world championships this summer and snubbed by some rivals at each medal ceremony, leading to a confrontation with British swimmer Duncan Scott.

RECAP AND VIDEO: Sun taunts Scott after medal ceremony

Sun has won 11 world individual titles in several freestyle distances but also has a long history of controversies ranging from a prior positive drug test and confrontations with other swimmers.

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U.S. women’s volleyball team ends year with surprise loss to Dominican Republic

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The Dominican Republic surprised the U.S. women’s volleyball team in the final of the NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean) women’s continental championship Sunday in San Juan, Puerto Rico, winning the first two sets and regrouping after a U.S. rally to win the fifth set.

The final score of the back-and-forth match: 25-19, 25-23, 15-25, 20-25, 15-9. The U.S. women had defeated the Dominican Republic in three previous finals: 2011, 2013 and 2015. The Dominican Republic won a semifinal matchup on its way to the 2009 title.

In group play, the U.S. team had beaten the Dominican Republic in straight sets. The U.S. also breezed past Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico in group play and swept past Canada in the semifinals.

The loss doesn’t affect Olympic qualification. The U.S. women had already qualified for the 2020 Olympics by winning a qualification tournament in August in Bossier City, La.

MORE: U.S. women rally to qualify

Semifinalists Canada and Puerto Rico qualified for a last-chance Olympic qualifier that the Dominican Republic will host in January. Mexico defeated Cuba in the NORCECA fifth-place game to be the last of the four teams vying for one spot.

The Dominican Republic has had some success in women’s volleyball, finishing fifth in the 2014 world championships and reaching the 2012 Olympic quarterfinals before falling to the U.S. The team also won this year’s Pan Am Games, to which the U.S. did not send its top players. Currently, the team is ranked 10th in the world.

Earlier this year, the U.S. women had defeated the Dominican Republic in two tournament finals — the Pan American Cup and the NORCECA Champions Cup. The U.S. also won a matchup in the World Cup last month, but the Dominican Republic won another five-set match in the Nations League preliminary round in Italy.

The U.S. finishes the year with a 44-7 record in tournament play, including a first-place finish in the Nations League and second place in the World Cup.

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