Armstrong meeting with USADA appears unlikely

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lance Armstrong’s lawyers say the cyclist will talk more about drug use in the sport, just likely not to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that led the effort to strip him of his Tour de France titles.

In a testy exchange of letters and statements revealing the gulf between the two sides, USADA urged Armstrong to testify under oath to help “clean up cycling.”

Armstrong’s attorneys responded that the cyclist would rather take his information where it could do more good — namely to cycling’s governing body and World Anti-Doping Agency officials.

USADA’s response to that: “The time for excuses is over.”

The letters, obtained Friday by The Associated Press, underscore the continuing feud between Armstrong and USADA CEO Travis Tygart, the man who spearheaded the investigation that uncovered a complex doping scheme on Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service teams.

Armstrong’s seven Tour de France victories were taken away last year and he was banned for life from the sport.

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey last week, Armstrong admitted doping, said he owed a long list of apologies and that he would like to see his lifetime ban reduced so he can compete again.

His most realistic avenue toward that might be telling USADA everything he knows in a series of interviews the agency wants started no later than Feb. 6.

That seems unlikely.

Armstrong attorney Tim Herman responded to USADA’s first letter, sent Wednesday, by saying his client’s schedule is already full, and besides, “in order to achieve the goal of ‘cleaning up cycling,’ it must be WADA and the (International Cycling Union) who have overall authority to do so.”

By Friday night, Herman strongly suggested Armstrong won’t meet with USADA at all but intends to appear before the UCI’s planned “truth and reconciliation” commission.

“Why would we cooperate (with USADA)?” Herman said in a telephone interview. “USADA isn’t interested in cleaning up cycling. Lance has said, ‘I’ll be the first guy in the chair when cycling is on trial, truthfully, under oath, in every gory detail.’ I think he’s going testify where it could actually do some good: With the body that’s charged with cleaning up cycling,” Herman said.

In its last letter to Armstrong, sent Friday evening, USADA attorney William Bock said his agency and WADA work hand-in-hand in that effort.

“Regardless, and with or without Mr. Armstrong’s help, we will move forward with our investigation for the good of clean athletes and the future of sport,” Bock’s letter reads.

The letters confirm a Dec. 14 meeting in Denver involving Armstrong, Tygart and their respective attorneys, which is when, in Tygart’s words, Armstrong should have started thinking about a possible meeting with USADA.

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