Nearly three years after Lance Armstrong was banned from the sport of cycling and saw his seven Tour de France titles erased from the record books, the cyclist reportedly engaged in talks with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to have his punishment lessened and requested that he be able to compete again.
The New York Times reports that Armstrong and USADA chief Travis Tygart met for the first time since December 2012, right after Armstrong attempted to sue USADA for what he considered false claims about his performance-enhancing drug (PED) use. Armstrong later dropped his lawsuit. Tygart accused Armstrong of running “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen” and banished the cyclist from both the sport and the record books in August 2012.
At the time, Armstrong still denied using PEDs and said in a statement on his official website, “I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours… The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colors.” Following Armstrong’s revelatory interview with Oprah Winfrey in January 2013, that statement was deleted from Armstrong’s site.
A thaw in the relationship between Armstrong and USADA came earlier this month when Armstrong revealed he would cooperate with the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC). “I am deeply sorry for many things I have done,” Armstrong said in a statement regarding his CIRC cooperation. “However, it is my hope that revealing the truth will lead to a bright, dope-free future for the sport I love, and will allow all young riders emerging from small towns throughout the world in years to come to chase their dreams without having to face the lose-lose choices that so many of my friends, teammates and opponents faced.”
While Tygart wouldn’t confirm to the Times that the Armstrong meeting took place, he did admit, “It is premature to talk about any sanction reduction.” Given the scope of Armstrong’s doping program, the USADA has long believed that many associates of the cyclist who helped foster the PED use have gone unpunished, and Armstrong has been reluctant to placate USADA’s demands to give up those who assisted in his cheating. Tygart added, “From the very beginning, our hope has always been that he would come in, sit down and have a full discussion.”
It’s unclear whether Armstrong hopes to ride competitively again or if he has other athletic aspirations; as part of his USADA lifetime ban, Armstrong is unable to compete in any activity governed by the World Anti-Doping Agency code.