The apology you're forced to make is rarely the most sincere. And make no mistake: Lance Armstrong's magical misery tour isn't coming from a place of penitence, but a transparent last-ditch attempt to race again. Even Armstrong's humility is selfish.
He is also talking to authorities about confessing and naming names, giving up others involved in illegal doping. This could result in a reduction of his lifetime ban, according to the source, if Armstrong provides substantial and meaningful information.
This is the third plank of Armstrong's absolution. First: a public (or at least non-basic cable) confession. Second, righting financial wrongs. (He's being sued by the Sunday Times, which he accused of libeling him and settled in 2006. A Texas-based insurance company, which was forced to pay out millions in performance bonuses, is considering its own suit. An Australian state is seeking repayment of millions in appearance fees. And now the Justice Department may get involved over the funding for Armstrong's USPS team.) The final step? Turn narc.
It would be ironic and maybe fitting to see Armstrong, who bullied and threatened and sued and ruined riders who accused him of doping, turn around and spill everything he knows about the users and suppliers of cycling. But humiliation isn't USADA's goal here. The fact is, they need Lance Armstrong.
It took how many years, how much money, how much manpower just to pin down one guy? USADA (and to a lesser extent UCI, which doesn't seem to really care and can be bought off) is way behind the dopers, in both technology and logistics, and this is a golden chance to catch up. It's not every day you get a stoolie who ran "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program the sport has ever seen." Armstrong is the focal point, with webs of doctors, chemists, supply chains, and corrupt officials likely converging on him. This information, and not some personal witch hunt, is why Travis Tygart has spent so much time on Armstrong. It's not about crushing Armstrong; it's about using him. And now that he's at rock bottom, USADA's ready to help him back up—if he'll help them with what they want to know.