Hamilton: Armstrong must tell everything he knows
"He's broken," Hamilton said in an interview Friday with The Associated Press. "I've never seen him even remotely like that. It doesn't please me to see that."
Hamilton rode for Armstrong's U.S. Postal Service team during Armstrong's first three Tour de France titles. Hamilton's public confessions to doping -- first in a candid-but-halting "60 Minutes" interview in 2011, then later in a tell-all book that came out last summer -- provided key evidence in the case against Armstrong.
On Thursday, Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey aired, and the cyclist admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs to fuel all seven of his Tour de France victories.
Hamilton, who said he felt a huge sense of relief after telling the truth, applauded Armstrong's decision to come clean, calling it a "big first step," but only a beginning.
"It's what he does moving forward," Hamilton said in a phone interview. "He's saying some of the right things now but the proof is in the pudding. If he just goes and hides away, people are not going to be happy. But if he does the right thing, speaks to Travis Tygart and WADA and tells everything he knows, that's going to make a big difference."
Both Tygart, head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) director general David Howman have said Armstrong needs to offer more than a televised confession to make amends and possibly have his lifetime sports ban reduced.
While admitting to doping in his interview, Armstrong contradicted a key point of Hamilton's: That Armstrong told him he tested positive during the 2001 Tour de Suisse and conspired with International Cycling Union officials to cover it up -- in exchange for a donation.
"That story wasn't true. There was no positive test, no paying off of the labs. There was no secret meeting with the lab director," Armstrong told Winfrey.
Asked about that, Hamilton told the AP: "I stand by what I said. It's all out there. I don't know if it's a legal thing, or why he said that. It doesn't really bother me that much."
Hamilton was also among numerous riders who described the immense pressure Armstrong put on them to take part in the doping. Armstrong told Winfrey nobody was forced to dope.
"Nobody took a syringe and forced it into my arm. I made that decision on my own," Hamilton said. "But you did feel the pressure. When it was all set up for my first blood-doping experience in 2000, when I flew to Spain on Lance's private jet, I don't know what would've happened to me if I'd said, 'I'll stick with EPO but no blood doping.' I assume they would've been angry about it. For me, it was a no-brainer."
Armstrong said he had reached out to some of the people he felt he owed apologies. Hamilton has not heard from him, however, and didn't sound like he was waiting by the phone.
Hamilton called the entire episode a "huge life lesson" and said Armstrong can help the sport if he's willing to do more, especially if it involves providing information about doctors, managers and other higher-ups in cycling.
"There are still a lot of bad apples in this sport," Hamilton said. "Lance Armstrong did not act alone. There are plenty of people out there who still think they got away with it. I don't think he wants to rat anybody out. But he didn't do this by himself and he didn't learn this by himself."
More reaction to Lance Armstrong's confession:
"Tonight, Lance Armstrong finally acknowledged that his cycling career was built on a powerful combination of doping and deceit. His admission that he doped throughout his career is a small step in the right direction. But if he is sincere in his desire to correct his past mistakes, he will testify under oath about the full extent of his doping activities." -- Travis Tygart, head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
"He was wrong, he cheated and there was no excuse for what he did. If he was looking for redemption, he didn't succeed in getting that." -- John Fahey, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
"We at the LIVESTRONG Foundation are disappointed by the news that Lance Armstrong misled people during and after his cycling career, including us. Earlier this week, Lance apologized to our staff and we accepted his apology in order to move on and chart a strong, independent course. We look forward to devoting our full energy to our mission of helping people not only fight and survive cancer, but also thrive in life after cancer." -- Official statement from the Livestrong Foundation, founded by Armstrong in 1997.
"Lance Armstrong's decision finally to confront his past is an important step forward on the long road to repairing the damage that has been caused to cycling and to restoring confidence in the sport." -- UCI President Pat McQuaid.
"He's gone halfway, he's told us he took drugs, he's told us how long he took drugs. He swears categorically he's never taken drugs since '05, since his comeback period. But that's all behind us now. Where did he get the drugs from? Where did all the big money go to pay for those drugs? Because it's very, very expensive to buy EPO. Who gave him the knowhow, the wherewithal to do it?" -- Cycling commentator Phil Liggett to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
""It didn't go far enough. ... He has to name names. ... He is probably the biggest cheat sport has ever known." -- David Walsh, a long-time Armstrong critic, to the BBC.
"He cheated the sport. He cheated many people around the world with his career, with his life story. " -- Tennis player Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open.
"I don't want to waste any more of my time with Lance Armstrong. He's an incredible actor and that's what you (saw) today on the Oprah Winfrey Show." -- Former Armstrong mechanic and assistant Mike Anderson, who had to battle legal action after accusing the Texan of drug use.
"After years of lying to my face, Lance Armstrong apologizes in an email. He can keep it." -- Veteran sports writer Rick Reilly, via Twitter.
"I commend @lancearmstrong for courageously coming forward, but I am disappointed that he let down the sport and his fans." -- Former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson, via Twitter.
"The problem with people like Lance, or any other dug cheat, is that they think everyone else is doing it so they have to do it. In fact not everyone else is doing it." -- Two-time Tour de France stage winner Robbie McEwen at the Tour Down Under.
"I think it's just a really sad story, sad for that sport itself. I'm happy that our sport is as clean as it can be and that we're constantly tested." -- Tennis player Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open.
"The hope he's giving cancer patients and money he's raised trumps his wrong doings." -- Former NFL receiver Chad Johnson, via Twitter.
"So it's official - @lancearmstrong is the worst lying, doping cheat in the history of sport." -- TV host Piers Morgan, via Twitter.
"The thing about @lancearmstrong is that he also used his platform to call many good ppl liars." -- Former heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis, via Twitter.
"Lance Armstrong? Isn't this type of confession usually a tearful one? When does the guy start crying?" -- Sportscaster Jim Rome, via Twitter.
"Cold-blooded and cut-throat to the end." -- USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan, via Twitter.
"Sports is not life and death...but the work @lancearmstrong does for cancer research and cancer victims is." -- Lieutenant Governor of California Gavin Newsom, via Twitter.
"Raise your hand if you think @lancearmstrong understands how much he ruined the lives of people who were telling the truth." -- CNN correspondent Jake Tapper, via Twitter.
"The Don Corleone of Cycling. Who knew?" -- Former Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard, via Twitter.
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