WASHINGTON, Jan 18, 2013 (AFP) – Tyler Hamilton, a former teammate whose
testimony helped lead to a life ban against Lance Armstrong, on Friday praised
the fallen cycling star for the television interview in which he finally
acknowledged cheating after years of denials.
“I think it’s a huge, huge first step for Lance Armstrong,” Hamilton, one
11 former teammates to testify against the US cycling star, told NBC
television’s Today Show program.
“For a lot of people, it’s raw. I’ve known about it for a long time, since
1998. Big first step,” said the cyclist, whose new book “The Secret Race” also
describes doping by Armstrong.
“You can tell, it’s real. He’s very emotional and he’s definitely sorry. I
don’t know. I think it’s going to be a hard next few weeks for him, next few
months, years,” he said.
“He did the right thing, finally. And it’s never too late to tell the
Hamilton made his remarks the morning after Armstrong’s explosive interview
with talk show host Oprah Winfrey, in which he confessed to having taken
performance-enhancing drugs, and described himself as “deeply flawed” and at
times “a bully.”
Some of the most damaging testimony against Armstrong came from former
teammates like Hamilton, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer and Floyd Landis.
Hamilton said he was convinced about the sincerity of the remorse expressed
by the former Tour de France champion, although he said the confession is just
a first step.
“It’s really what happens next, you know. The proof is in the pudding,”
Hamilton told NBC.
He added that he has not been contacted by Armstrong and isn’t expecting
outreach by him in the near future.
“He needs to apologize to a lot of other people before he apologizes to
me,” he said.
Thursday’s explosive interview — Armstrong’s first since being stripped of
his multitude of cycling honors — is seen as one of the most sensational
confessions of cheating in the history of sport.
The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) stripped Armstrong of seven Tour de
France titles and issued a life ban against him last April for what it dubbed
the biggest doping conspiracy in the history of sport.
“I made my decisions. They’re my mistake. And I’m sitting here today to
acknowledge that and to say I’m sorry for that… I view this situation as one
big lie that I repeated a lot of times,” said Armstrong, 41.
Before his downfall, the cancer survivor turned champion inspired millions
across the world and became cycling’s first global superstar.