Passing up his final opportunity to cooperate with the investigation from his eternal enemies at the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Lance Armstrong on Wednesday unveiled bigger plans for his official, non-Oprah coming-clean party: He'll only talk to a global court that doesn't exist yet.
So, where does the old man's righteous, extralegal fight to clean up the cycling world look next?
Tim Herman, Armstrong's attorney, wants everyone to know that his client still has every intention of explaining how he was able to avoid testing positive for all those years — and to some sort of officiating body. He just won't do it for the USADA. "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," Herman said in a statement. But Armstrong will only come clean before "an international tribunal formed to comprehensively address pro cycling," because cycling is almost entirely based in Europe. Quick: Can you think of an independent international tribunal that Armstrong could speak to? You can't! Because there isn't one!
But Armstrong and Herman want a tribunal to be formed, because this is a problem that needs to be solved, and because they said so. "We remain hopeful that an international effort will be mounted, and we will do everything we can to facilitate that result," Herman's statement reads. "In the meantime, 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." Until then, well, sucks to be you, USADA.
What's even more ridiculous about Armstrong's dismissal of the USADA is that his original deadline to agree to cooperate — or not — was February 6, but Armstrong asked for a two-week extension, which brought us to today's grand proclamation. What happened in that interval, and why Armstrong needed the extension, remains unclear, even though he was clearly concocting this tribunal idea at some point. Of course, Armstrong's most obvious reason for pushing aside the USADA is that he's still facing a bevy of lawsuits related to his doping confession, and any information admitted to the USASA could help (but mostly hurt) those efforts.
But Armstrong and the USADA have been at odds for years. The group accused him of running the "most sophisticated" doping ring of all time, and also of trying to pay them off sometime around 2005, at the height of steroid suspicions surrounding Armstrong. The USADA wants Armstrong to come clean to them, and not to Oprah, because in that very public interview he held back some details and specifics about techniques and people involved in the ring they so suspect. The USADA want to know everything, and Lance Armstrong's counter is a complex one: Just wait, and I'll tell everybody else.
The folks over at the USADA sound more exasperated than anything. They thought they finally had their guy, but now he's off to save the cycling world. "We have provided Mr. Armstrong several opportunities to assist in our ongoing efforts to clean up the sport of cycling," USADA CEO Travis Tygart, often the pain in Armstrong's side, said Wednesday. He added: "Following his recent television interview, we again invited him to come in and provide honest information, and he was informed in writing by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that this was the appropriate avenue for him if he wanted to be part of the solution." Tygart said his group thought Armstrong was ready to cooperate, then also cited Armstrong's potential civil and criminal cases.
Now it's all up to the yet-to-be-formed independent international tribunal to get the whole story from Armstrong. It's the only way we'll know the truth. Who wants to get started running that? Anyone? Bueller?