Lance Armstrong has turned down what may be his last chance at reducing his lifetime sporting ban.
Armstrong has already admitted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey to a career fueled by doping and deceit. But to get a break from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, all he had to do was tell his story to those who police sports doping. The deadline was today, and Armstrong now says he won't do it.
"For several reasons, Lance will not participate in USADA's efforts to selectively conduct American prosecutions that only demonize selected individuals while failing to address the 95 percent of the sport over which USADA has no jurisdiction," said Tim Herman, Armstrong's longtime lawyer. "Lance is willing to cooperate fully and has been very clear: He will be the first man through the door, and once inside will answer every question, at an international tribunal formed to comprehensively address pro cycling."
But the "international tribunal" Armstrong is anxious to cooperate with has one major problem: It doesn't exist.
The UCI, cycling's governing body, has talked about forming a "truth and reconciliation" commission, but the World Anti-Doping Agency has resisted, citing serious concerns about the UCI and its leadership.
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U.S. Anti-Doping Agency officials seemed stunned by Armstrong's decision simply to walk away.
"Over the last few weeks, he [Armstrong] has led us to believe that he wanted to come in and assist USADA, but was worried of potential criminal and civil liability if he did so," said Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. "Today, we learned from the media that Mr. Armstrong is choosing not to come in and be truthful and that he will not take the opportunity to work toward righting his wrongs in sport."
Armstrong's ongoing saga plays out amid a backdrop of serious legal problems.
Sources believe one reason Armstrong wants to testify to an international tribunal, rather than USADA, is because perjury charges don't apply if Armstrong lies to a foreign agency, they told ABC News.
While Armstrong has admitted doping, he has not given up any details, including the people and methods required to pull off one of the greatest scandals in all of sport.
Armstrong is facing several multimillion-dollar lawsuits right now, but his biggest problems may be on the horizon. As ABC News first reported, a high-level source said a criminal investigation is ongoing. And the Department of Justice also reportedly is considering joining a whistleblower lawsuit claiming the U.S. Postal Service was defrauded out of millions of dollars paid to sponsor Armstrong's cycling team.
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