by Christine Brennan, USA TODAY Sports
Lance Armstrong and U.S. Anti-Doping CEO Travis Tygart met for more than an hour in early to mid-December to discuss the possibility of a public admission that the banned cyclist used performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions during his long career, a person with knowledge of the meeting said Wednesday morning.
"They (Armstrong and his advisers) were kind of beating around the bush trying to get the temperature of the situation. They were very general discussions," said the person, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the talks were supposed to remain confidential.
The person would not disclose the location of the meeting, which took place at the behest of Armstrong and his advisers, who belligerently rebuffed a similar meeting in June as part of USADA's investigation into the disgraced former seven-time Tour de France winner.
In October, USADA released its findings, a massive file of evidence against Armstrong. Since then sponsors have dropped him and he's had to compete in small non-sanctioned events.
"I believe he is giving serious consideration to confessing to the American people," the person said. "That said, if I were his attorney, I don't think I would give my client permission to confess to the American people. It would open up all kinds of possible legal action and the civil suits that are out there and could be out there in the future."
Armstrong's longtime lawyer, Tim Herman, told USA TODAY Sports last week that there were no ongoing discussions with USADA, as had been reported by the New York Times on Friday.
Were Armstrong to personally confess to years of cheating, that by itself would have no effect on his lifetime banishment from participating in sanctioned sporting events. (He is 41 and already retired from cycling. He has competed far below the Olympic level in marathons and triathlons.)
If Armstrong were to give USADA and WADA "new" information, it's possible his ban could be reduced to eight years, which would nearly bring him to his 50th birthday. Any further reduction is not covered in the WADA rules and would require the agreement of WADA and cycling's international federation.
On Jan. 17, Oprah Winfrey is scheduled to air a 90-minute interview with Armstrong. While no details of the interview have been released, one option for Armstrong would be to issue a "general apology" with no specifics of what exactly he is apologizing for, just as former New York Yankees slugger Jason Giambi did nearly eight years ago.
Copyright 2012 USATODAY.com