• Cycling

Too little, too late for Armstrong - IOC chief

ESPN staff
November 13, 2013
Lance Armstrong has not made a "real admission" according to IOC president Thomas Bach © Getty Images

Lance Armstrong should not have his lifetime doping ban reduced because his appeals for leniency are "too little, too late", says IOC president Thomas Bach.

Armstrong has said he would be "happy to talk" to the UCI's proposed new 'truth and reconciliation' commission for a reduction in his ban, as well as helping out the World Anti-Doping Agency's independent cycling investigation which the organisation has announced is imminent.

However Bach insists Armstrong has not made a "real admission" of his guilt and his ban should therefore not be reviewed.

"I would not feel comfortable with this [reducing Armstrong's ban] because it is too little, too late. It was not even a real admission," Bach said after addressing delegates at the World Conference on Doping in Sport in Johannesburg.

"Now trying to bargain a deal there after everything has been proven, and now that he realises he doesn't just get off the hook - this is not the best way, to lessen a sanction or to be lenient there in any way."

Cycling's drug-stained past is one of the central issues at the conference. Bach will meet with Brian Cookson, the new UCI head, on Wednesday or Thursday. Cycling's governing body have approached the IOC to "consult" on doping issues, Bach revealed.

"I think cycling is taking the opportunity to strengthen their fight against doping," Bach said. "What I have seen and heard so far is that the UCI is really going in the right direction."

Bach is also in support of WADA doubling the standard suspension for serious doping violations from two to four years. WADA will reportedly approve the increased sanction later this week, as well as other changes to the international anti-doping code, which will come into effect on January 1, 2015, ahead of the Rio Olympics.

The increase to four years is aimed at ensuring doping offenders miss at least one Olympics.

"It adds to the deterring factor of the sanction because until now there was something in between, they could still come back at the next edition of the Games," Bach said. "And some may even have calculated with this comeback and therefore it is a very important step forward."

Bach also said he was in favour of lifetime bans for first offenders, though lawyers have advised him the move would not be possible because of human rights issues.

"It is a pity but you have to expect this," Bach said.

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics is to be the most drug-tested in Winter Games history, according to Bach, with 1,269 pre-competition tests - an increase on 804 at the 2010 Vancouver Games. The total of tests around the Games will move up from 2,149 four years ago to 2,453. Bach also announced the IOC will be spending $1 million on pre-competition testing and "many millions" on testing throughout the Games, which take place form February 7-23.

"To be clear, to be very clear: These millions of dollars are not expenses. They are an investment in the future of our sports," Bach said.

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