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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Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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