The Calvin Report: Half-truths will not set you free Lance

Lance Armstrong now knows how it feels for the bully to be bullied, but this game of television charades has done nothing to earn him the privilege of forgiveness

The Hollywood hiccup arrived in the final frames. Lance Armstrong's eyes, steely blue and unfeelingly cold, darted around the hotel room which doubled as his confessional. He looked down, in a rare moment of discomfort, as he rationalised Oprah Winfrey's closing statement: "I hope the moral to this story is 'The truth will set you free.'"

As an agnostic, Armstrong is unlikely to care that the quote originated from verse 8:32 of the Gospel of John. He associated the phrase most vividly with the advice of his former wife Kristin, one of the few people he is prepared to name as being complicit in sharing the secret of his drug abuse. After a pause that stretched to infinity, and beyond, he simply said: "Yep".

In the inevitable biopic, the music will soar and the credits will roll. In the real world, the agony endures, and the questions are more insistent than ever. Even being charitable, an act which requires a clear mind and a strong stomach, Armstrong is trapped in a twilight world of half-truths, deceits and deceptions.

No one is going to be set free any time soon. Armstrong remains the exception to the rule that cancer survivors bless their borrowed time with a sense of perspective. Based on his game of charades with the High Priestess of American TV, he is unchanged. He expects to trade theatrical regret for redemption. He somehow believes that we believe in him, and what he once represented. He is King Lear in Lycra, a victim of hubris.

His expectation of forgiveness cannot be met. The lifting of what he termed, with telling lack of taste and discretion, "a death sentence", must not be permitted. He has done nothing to earn the privilege of being a fun-runner in the Chicago Marathon, or exorcising his competitive demons in the local triathlon.

The only way to move forward is for Armstrong to fulfil his promise to appear before a truth and reconciliation commission, a quasi-judicial process under oath, which will deny him the easy get-out of anodyne questioning and oblige him to respond to penetrative cross-questioning.

It is not about the bike; it never has been. It is not about Saint Lance; he was a figment of corporate imagination. It is about the sport of cycling; until it has the release of complete clarity that only Armstrong can provide, it will not be allowed to differentiate between a tainted professional circus and its benefits as a healthy, vigorous pursuit for all ages.

The two are destined to overlap, because mutual contamination is unavoidable. To give a small example, officials at the launch of British Cycling's new kit on Friday banned journalists from asking riders anything relating to doping, or to the man whose moral bankruptcy has unique toxicity.

The Tour de France returns to the UK in 2014, but until the status quo is swept away and the challenge of viable culture change is addressed, its cavalcade will lack credibility.

Meanwhile, cheats prosper from long-overdue honesty. They have reinvented themselves as heroes. Tyler Hamilton has a global bestseller on his hands. Floyd Landis stands to make up to $30 million (£19m) as a plaintiff in a civil whistle-blower lawsuit brought against Armstrong by the US Government, who are seeking recompense for investigative costs and breach of contract with the US Postal Service. Potential damages may reach $100m.

That, and the intricacies of the statute of limitations, probably explains Armstrong's reticence to name names. His lawyers might have been satisfied with his performance under Winfrey's formulaic inquisition, but I suspect it will be counterproductive. Despite the frenzy of pre-publicity generated by Winfrey's eponymous TV Channel and their partners at Discovery, US viewing figures were poor, at 4.5 million. Opinions against him have hardened.

Armstrong now knows what it feels to be at bay. He is in the solitary confinement to which he used to consign his most insightful critics. Financially, he is fearful of the chain of events triggered by what he called the "$75 million day" when he was abandoned by his long-term allies and sponsors. It is, to be as honest as he was duplicitous, hard to feel a shred of sympathy. If the second part of the Winfrey interview, much more emotionally driven than the first, was designed to shift the emotional equilibrium of the debate, it failed.

Of course, there were moments in which it was impossible to deny fellow feeling. On a human level, anyone can relate to the shame of betraying a mother. Parents can feel the referred pain of Armstrong's duty to tell Luke, his 13-year-old son, to stop defending his indefensible dad. The cyclist's marginalisation by the Livestrong cancer charity was a commercial necessity but a personal disaster.

Paolo Savoldelli, his erstwhile teammate, suggested yesterday: "What ruined Lance was the fact that he was the incarnation of the American Dream." That's simplistic, but hints at what happens when a man with sociopathic tendencies becomes a conduit for the hopes and fears of sport's global constituency. It will take time for Armstrong to acknowledge the truth.

For the first time in his life, the bully understands what it is like to be bullied. It is a salutary lesson, which demands a salutary response. Over to you, Lance.

What we still need to know

Who were Armstrong's co-conspirators?

Armstrong admits "other people" knew what he was doing. Which team members, or support staff, helped smuggle drugs or organise transfusions? Do they remain in the sport? If so, in what capacity? What is the identity of "Motoman", the courier paid to drop off EPO – the hormone erythropoietin, which boosts red blood-cell production, thus improving endurance – in the 1999 Tour de France? Who paid for the drugs? The cyclist knows the answers, but has not revealed them.

Was the $100k he gave UCI to pay for a cover-up?

Armstrong insists a $100,000 donation to UCI, the International Cycling Union, "was not an exchange for any cover-up". Either he is lying, or team-mates Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis, who informed the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) that he had been able to make the EPO test result "go away", are lying. Armstrong told Winfrey: "There were things that were a little shady, but that was not one of them." Why did he not elaborate on that statement?

Who were the doctors involved?

Dr Michele Ferrari, merely described by Armstrong as "a good man", has been banned for life by Usada, and could face criminal charges in Italy relating to an alleged £24 million doping ring. Nine riders provided affidavits about the doping procedures undertaken by Dr Luis Garcia Del Moral, who worked with the US Postal Services (USPS) team between 1999-2003. Dr Pedro Celaya, his predecessor as team doctor, is accused by Usada of being an "active participant" in doping. Are any others implicated?

Why does he deny his hospital "confession"?

Betsy and Frankie Andreu, who were there, testified under oath that when he was fighting cancer, Armstrong was asked by a doctor if he was using performance-enhancing drugs, and he said he had taken EPO, testosterone, growth hormone, cortisone and steroids. The cyclist has always vehemently denied the conversation took place, and refused to talk about it when asked to do so by Winfrey. What is behind his reluctance, since he has confessed to taking such substances?

How did Armstrong pass 500 drug tests?

Armstrong conceded that Emma O'Reilly, the team's massage therapist, was correct in saying that a backdated prescription covered up a failed test in 1999, but was not asked why the authorities accepted it so readily. Was any advance notification of testing provided? If so, by whom, and why? Was this done on a systematic basis?

What role did Johan Bruyneel play?

Bruyneel was Armstrong's directeur sportif at both the USPS and Discovery teams. Floyd Landis alleged to US federal investigators that Armstrong admitted he and Bruyneel flew to the UCI headquarters and "made a financial agreement to keep the positive test hidden". What is the nature of their relationship with Hein Verbruggen, head of UCI at the time? Is there a commercial connection?

Were USADA offered a $250k donation in 2004?

Armstrong's denials contrast with the unequivocal insistence of Travis Tygart, Usada's CEO, that "we had no hesitation in rejecting the offer". What possible motivation could Usada have for inventing such an initiative, given the weight of evidence they had compiled against the disgraced cyclist?

What is Armstrong's relationship with UCI?

Armstrong insisted on three separate occasions during the Winfrey interview that he was "no fan" of the UCI. Why, then, would he make the unique gesture, for an active athlete, of offering a donation to the governing body of his sport? Is it possible for cycling to move on into a new era while maintaining the status quo of Pat McQuaid's UCI presidency?

How does he explain away medical evidence?

In his comeback Tour de France in 2009, Armstrong's samples showed fewer red blood-cells over a three-week stage race than they would normally have, indicating that he was injecting supplemental blood. John Fahey, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) insists tests reveal "variations in his blood that show with absolute certainty he was doping after 2005".

Why should Armstrong be believed?

By his own admission, Armstrong has lied comprehensively and consistently. What proof did he offer that he is not merely extending the deception? After all, to use his own words against him, he is "not the most believable guy in the world right now".

Sport
Mourinho lost his temper as well as the match
sportLiverpool handed title boost as Sunderland smash manager’s 77-game home league run
Voices
Sweet tweet: Victoria Beckham’s selfie, taken on her 40th birthday on Thursday
voices... and her career-long attack on the absurd criteria by which we define our 'betters', by Ellen E Jones
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit