The New York Times is reporting that professional doper Lance Armstrong may admit to doping for professional gain, because he would gain professionally from the admission by fast-tracking the process by which he could compete in sporting events again. It takes some work to remember a time when Armstrong, the best ever in a sport that's synonymous with doping, wasn't associated with performance enhancing drugs. Suspicions have dogged Armstrong since 1999 at the latest, when he threatened a fellow cyclist who wrote about drugs in cycling for a French newspaper, and in 2004, L.A. Confidential alleged doping directly. Since August, Armstrong's cycling achievements have been overshadowed by his immense and impressive doping achievements, and now, like Jesse James admitting that he robbed banks, Armstrong is considering to confessing to the crime which has come to define him:
Lance Armstrong, who this fall was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping and barred for life from competing in all Olympic sports, has told associates and antidoping officials that he is considering publicly admitting that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions during his cycling career, according to several people with direct knowledge of the situation. He would do this, the people said, because he wants to persuade antidoping officials to restore his eligibility so he can resume his athletic career.
Armstrong has been under pressure from various fronts to confess. Wealthy supporters of Livestrong, the charity he founded after surviving testicular cancer, have been trying to persuade him to come forward so he could clear his conscience and save the organization from further damage, one person with knowledge of the situation said.
There's a lot of hedging in the Times report, which is based on information from anonymous sources and includes a half-denial from Armstrong's lawyer. The piece notes a precedent in Marion Jones, who denied doping for years before finally admitting it and ultimately serving six months in jail for lying to federal investigators (and passing bad checks). If Armstrong admits to doping, he could face perjury charges in connection to a civil suit against SCA Promotions, which withheld money from Armstrong after doping accusations surfaced in 2004.
To be clear: This isn't a an otherwise unsuspected civillian admitting to a crime; it's more like a convict admitting to the crime that led to his incarceration. Armstrong has already had his Tour de France titles stripped. An exhaustive USADA report laid out not only the way Armstrong doped but also the way he pressured other teammates into doping and vehemently lied about it.
Armstrong's confession would likely only unnerve those that occupy exceedingly confused moral universes. You can write circles around his "complicated" legacy but since this summer, Armstrong has been on the wrong end of an endless stream revelations not only about his doping regimen but also his personality. Admitting to cheating would be the first vaguely sympathetic thing he's done in some time, and it would give Armstrong an opportunity to speak about doping, the last topic on which he's a credible source.