London: Former sprinter Ben Johnson believes fellow drug cheat Lance Armstrong can be loved again by the American public.
Disgraced cyclist Armstrong admitted for the first time to taking drugs during his career in an interview with Oprah Winfrey shown last week.
And Johnson, who was banned for taking steroids at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, has some sympathy for Armstrong.
“American people will forgive him,” he told BBC Radio 5 live’s Sportsweek programme.
“I don’t think it will be tough for him to make a living. I hope he can move on and do good things. If he can find some way to make a living he will be fine.
“I think people will judge him differently, based on what he did for humanity and for cancer.”
Last year Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after being labelled a “serial cheat” by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
USADA said that Armstrong’s USPS/Discovery Channel professional cycling team operated the “most sophisticated, professional and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.
In the first part of the interview with Winfrey, Armstrong finally ended years of denials by admitting he used performance-enhancing drugs during all seven of his Tour de France wins.
He also questioned whether he deserves what he describes as his “death penalty” punishment which means he is banned from all sports because of his use of performance-enhancing drugs.
But after the drama of confessions and contradictions, now he is back in Hawaii with his family, without credibility, and also without a job, a cancer foundation to represent or any foreseeable income that would come close to the millions he once earned from the sponsors that abandoned him last fall.
So what is Armstrong’s next move? Anti-doping officials are hoping he has one thing at the top of his to-do list: to knock on their doors.
Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the USADA, and David Howman, the director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency, are eager to see if Armstrong will come to them to testify under oath about his doping. They want to see if he is willing to provide details of how he doped and got away with it for so long.
With Winfrey, Armstrong failed to delve into any of the details of his doping, leaving many important questions unanswered. He did not provide names of the people who helped him dope. He never explained how he so masterfully evaded testing positive for more than a decade.
By giving that information to anti-doping authorities, Armstrong could help improve a sport fighting to rid itself of doping. It also could hasten his possible redemption, according to Steven Ungerleider, a psychologist who wrote a book about the East German doping machine and has been a consultant to the Olympic movement for more than 35 years.