Lance Armstrong: WADA head rebuffed proposed meeting in 2013

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Lance Armstrong said Wednesday that the World Anti-Doping Agency and others are “owed an apology” from him for cheating during his cycling career, but noted that the agency’s chief rebuffed efforts to meet back in 2013.

David Howman, director general of WADA, told The Associated Press this week that he was disappointed Armstrong had not apologized for costly and time-consuming lawsuits before the former cycling champion admitted using performance-enhancing drugs.

Armstrong initially declined to comment on Howman’s remark, but on Wednesday provided the AP with a May 2013 email exchange with Howman, who initially indicted he could meet with Armstrong, then backed off under advice from WADA lawyers.

“I can talk at a suitable time and at a suitable place … What do you suggest?” Howman responded to Armstrong’s first inquiry about a meeting.

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A few days later, after Armstrong recounted his upcoming schedule, Howman broke off the discussion.

“Having reflected upon your request to meet with me, and having taken advice from our lawyers, it is apparent that it is a situation where little, if anything, can be gained from such a meeting,” Howman wrote Armstrong.

Howman did not immediately respond Wednesday to requests for comment.

Armstrong won the Tour de France every year from 1999-2005. Those titles were stripped after a massive report in 2012 by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency detailed doping by Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service teammates. In the email, Howman said he told Armstrong’s attorneys months earlier they should meet with USADA.

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Although the intent of the meeting request with Howman is not relayed in emails, Armstrong said Wednesday he reached out to Howman in hopes of discussing a potential “truth and reconciliation” effort to confront doping in cycling.

A probe into the sport’s doping problems was later conducted by the Cycling Independent Reform Commission, which met twice with Armstrong and issued its report in March.

Part of the report detailed Armstrong’s efforts to debunk a report by the French newspaper L’Equipe that found his urine samples from the 1999 Tour de France tested positive for EPO, a hormone that helps endurance. The UCI hired Dutch lawyer Emile Vrijman to investigate the findings and the probe produced a report that Vrijman claimed exonerated Armstrong and instead blamed WADA and the testing lab.

The report released last month detailed how Armstrong’s lawyers were allowed to help write the report that criticized WADA.

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Armstrong said he doesn’t know if he would have apologized to Howman had they met in 2013, but it would have been a chance to do it in person.

“I was in a different headspace,” Armstrong said. “There’s no doubt that a lot of people like them, like USADA, are owed an apology.”

Armstrong said there’s been no attempt to meet with Howman since 2013.