That he used PEDs isn't the news here. Admitting that he did is.
Armstrong for years has denied ever using anything illegal, claiming innocence while defaming those who've said he did. He denied it during his career, when many around him were getting caught, denied it after he retired, when even his former teammates were saying he was anything but clean, and he denied it late last year in the wake of a USADA report that painted him as the ringleader of an elaborate doping scheme that involved stealth delivery of PEDs on motorcycles and dumping used syringes in Coke cans.
Don't for a second read the continued denials as all about Armstrong maintaining innocence or even keeping a squeaky-clean image alive. That's certainly part of it, but not all of it. No, as with most things, money is surely involved, too.
Armstrong reportedly received $12 million in bonus money for winning the Tour de France in 2002, '03 and '04, as well as $4 million in prize money for his seven Tour victories (which have since been stripped). Since the release of the USADA report in October, various groups announced they would seek reimbursement of those funds.
In a 2005 deposition, given during a legal proceeding in a case against an insurance company that withheld performance-based bonuses, Armstrong was asked if his sponsors would go away if he was found guilty of doping.
"All of them," Armstrong said. "And the faith of all the cancer survivors around the world. So everything I do off of the bike would go away too. And don't think for a second I don't understand that. It's not about money for me. Everything. It's also about the faith that people have put in me over the years. So all of that would be erased. So I don't need it to say in a contract you're fired if you test positive. That's not as important as losing the support of hundreds of millions of people."
Well, now he's lost his seven Tour victories, lost his sponsors and lost many of those cancer survivors who wanted to believe his too-good-to-be-true story. And whether he stands to lose some or all of that bonus money, he's surely had conversations with his attorneys about the legal ramifications of admitting guilt now.
With his reasons to keep up the ruse vaporized, he's heading to OWN (Oprah's network) on Jan. 17, when many expect he'll finally come clean.
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