Lance Armstrong: 'People can decide' the truth

Lance Armstrong said viewers can judge for themselves how candid he was in his interview with Oprah Winfrey.

"I left it all on the table with her and when it airs the people can decide," he said in a text message to The Associated Press.

Armstrong responded to a report in the New York Daily News, citing an unidentified source, that he was not contrite when he acknowledged during Monday's taping with Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs. Although the first installment of a two-part interview doesn't air until Thursday night, there has been no shortage of opinions or advice on what Armstrong should say.

Livestrong, the cancer charity Armstrong founded in 1997 and was forced to walk away from last year, said in a statement Wednesday it expected him to be "completely truthful and forthcoming." A day earlier, World Anti-Doping Agency general director David Howman said nothing short of a confession under oath -- "not talking to a talk-show host" -- could prompt a reconsideration of Armstrong's lifetime ban from sanctioned events. And Frankie Andreu, a former teammate that Armstrong turned on, said the disgraced cyclist had an obligation to tell all he knew and help clean up the sport.

Armstrong has held conversations with officials from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, including a reportedly contentious face-to-face meeting with USADA chief executive Travis Tygart near the Denver airport. It was USADA's 1,000-page report last year, including testimony from nearly a dozen former teammates, that portrayed Armstrong as the leader of a sophisticated doping ring that enveloped the U.S. Postal Service team on the way to title after title at the Tour de France. In addition to the lifetime ban, Armstrong was stripped of all seven wins, lost nearly all of his endorsements and was forced to cut ties with Livestrong.

According to a person with knowledge of the situation, Armstrong has information that might lead to his ban being reduced to eight years. That would make him eligible to compete in elite triathlons, many of which are sanctioned under world anti-doping rules, in 2020, when Armstrong will be 49. He was a professional athlete in the three-discipline sport as a teenager, and returned to competition after retiring from cycling in 2011.

That person also said the bar for Armstrong's redemption is higher now than when the case was open, a time during which he refused to speak to investigators.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing a confidential matter.

Armstrong, who always prized loyalty on his racing teams, now faces some very tough choices himself: whether to cooperate and name those who may have aided, abetted or helped cover up the long-time use of PEDs.

"I have no idea what the future holds other than me holding my kids," he said.

Armstrong left his hometown of Austin, where the interview was taped at a downtown hotel, and is in Hawaii. He is named as a defendant in at least two pending lawsuits, and possibly a third. The Justice Department faces a Thursday deadline on a decision whether to join a whistle-blower lawsuit filed by former teammate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping.

That suit alleges Armstrong defrauded the U.S. government by repeatedly denying he used performance-enhancing drugs. Armstrong could be required to return substantial sponsorship fees and pay a hefty fine. The AP reported earlier that Justice Department officials were likely to join the lawsuit.
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Jim Litke reported from Chicago, Jim Vertuno from Austin.

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