From Comcast SportsNetAUSTIN, Texas(AP) --Lance Armstrong has finally come clean.The cyclist confessed to doping during an interview with Oprah Winfrey taped Monday, just a couple of hours after a wrenching apology to staff at the Livestrong charity he founded and has now been forced to surrender.The emotional day ended with 2 12 hours of questions from Winfrey, where she said the world's most famous cyclist was "forthcoming" as she asked him in detail about doping allegations that followed him throughout his seven Tour de France victories.Winfrey told CBS on Tuesday she had not planned to address Armstrong's confession before the interview aired on her OWN network Thursday but, "by the time I left Austin and landed in Chicago, you all had already confirmed it.""So I'm sitting here now because it's already been confirmed," she added.Winfrey said the interview will now run in two parts over two nights because there is so much material.Winfrey would not characterize whether Armstrong seemed contrite but said he seemed ready for the interview. "I would say he met the moment," she said.The confession was a stunning reversal for a proud athlete and celebrity who sought lavish praise and used courtrooms to punish his critics.For more than a decade, Armstrong dared anybody who challenged his version of events to prove it. Finally, he told the tale himself after promising over the weekend to answer Winfrey's questions "directly, honestly and candidly."The cyclist was stripped of his Tour titles, lost most of his endorsements and was forced to leave Livestrong last year after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued a damning, 1,000-page report that accused him of masterminding a long-running doping scheme.The International Cycling Union, or UCI, issued a statement on Tuesday saying it was aware of the reports that Armstrong had confessed to Winfrey. The governing body for the sport urged Armstrong to tell his story to an independent commission it has set up to examine claims it covered up suspicious samples from the cyclist, accepted financial donations from him and helped him avoid detection in doping tests.Armstrong started Monday with a visit to the headquarters of Livestrong, the charity he founded in 1997 and turned into a global force on the strength of his athletic dominance and personal story of surviving testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain.Armstrong told staffers "I'm sorry." He choked up during a 20-minute talk, expressing regret for the long-running controversy tied to performance-enhancers had caused, but stopped short of admitting he used them.He urged them to continue the charity's mission, helping cancer patients and their families."Heartfelt and sincere," is how Livestrong spokeswoman Katherine McLane described his speech.Armstrong later huddled with almost a dozen people before stepping into the interview with Winfrey. The group included close friends and lawyers. They exchanged handshakes and smiles, but declined comment.Winfrey has promoted her interview as a "no-holds barred" session, and after the voluminous USADA report -- which included testimony from 11 former teammates -- she said she went into the session with 112 questions ready to go. Not all of them were asked, she said, but many were.USADA chief executive Travis Tygart, a longtime critic of Armstrong's, called the drug regimen practiced while Armstrong led the U.S. Postal Service team "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen." USADA did not respond to requests for comment about Armstrong's confession.For years, Armstrong went after his critics ruthlessly during his reign as cycling champion. He scolded some in public and didn't hesitate to punish outspoken riders during the race itself. He waged legal battles against still others in court.At least one of his opponents, the London-based Sunday Times, has already filed a lawsuit to recover about 500,000 it paid him to settle a libel case, and Texas-based SCA Promotions, which tried to deny Armstrong a promised bonus for a Tour de France win, has threatened to bring another lawsuit seeking to recover more than 7.5 million awarded by an arbitration panel.In Australia, the government of South Australia state said Tuesday it will seek the repayment of several million dollars in appearance fees paid to Armstrong for competing in the Tour Down Under in 2009, 2010 and 2011."We'd be more than happy for Mr. Armstrong to make any repayment of monies to us," South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill said.Betsy Andreu, the wife of former Armstrong teammate Frankie Andreu, was one of the first to publicly accuse Armstrong of using performance-enhancing drugs. She called news of Armstrong's confession "very emotional and very sad," and choked up when asked to comment."He used to be one of my husband's best friends and because he wouldn't go along with the doping, he got kicked to the side," she said. "Lance could have a positive impact if he tells the truth on everything. He's got to be completely honest."Betsy Andreu testified in SCA's arbitration case challenging the bonus in 2005, saying Armstrong admitted in an Indiana hospital room in 1996 that he had taken many performance-enhancing drugs, a claim Armstrong vehemently denied."It would be nice if he would come out and say the hospital room happened," Andreu said. "That's where it all started."Former teammate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping, has filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit that accused Armstrong of defrauding the U.S. Postal Service. An attorney familiar with Armstrong's legal problems told the AP that the Justice Department is highly likely to join the lawsuit. The False Claims Act lawsuit could result in Armstrong paying a substantial amount of money to the U.S. government. The deadline for the department to join the case is Thursday, though the department could seek an extension if necessary.According to the attorney, who works outside the government, the lawsuit alleges that Armstrong defrauded the U.S. government based on his years of denying use of performance-enhancing drugs. The attorney spoke on condition of anonymity because the source was not authorized to speak on the record about the matter.The lawsuit most likely to be influenced by a confession might be the Sunday Times case. Potential perjury charges stemming from Armstrong's sworn testimony in the 2005 arbitration fight would not apply because of the statute of limitations. Armstrong was not deposed during the federal investigation that was closed last year.Armstrong is said to be worth around 100 million. But most sponsors dropped him after USADA's scathing report -- at the cost of tens of millions of dollars -- and soon after, he left the board of Livestrong.After the USADA findings, he was also barred from competing in the elite triathlon or running events he participated in after his cycling career. World Anti-Doping Code rules state his lifetime ban cannot be reduced to less than eight years. WADA and U.S. Anti-Doping officials could agree to reduce the ban further depending on what information Armstrong provides and his level of cooperation.
Four days into the Cubs’ training camp restart, we’ve only begun to get acquainted with the new normal of baseball rhythms and routines that we can only hope will result in a 2020 season of 60 games.
If the league can fix some of its early testing issues and keep enough players on enough teams healthy enough to start the season, what might come into play for the Cubs and the actual baseball.
Early observations after about a dozen Zoom sessions with team personnel and two intrasquad scrimmages:
NUTS: Home cooked?
The Cubs, who draw so reliably in one of the unique ballparks in the majors, might have more to lose than most teams without fans allowed to attend games when the season starts July 24.
Just how much of the Confines’ home-field advantage is lost will be a matter of “wait-and-see,” manager David Ross said.
“There’s always an advantage to playing in your own park,” he said Sunday. “You feel more comfortable you woke up in your own bed. You’re not staying in a hotel room, which especially now, where you feel like outside spaces just aren’t comfortable as they used to be, probably [gives] a slight advantage in your city.
“There’s no substitute for fans,” he added. “There’s probably a slight advantage, but I don’t know if it’s as great as it used to be.”
What Ross didn’t mention were the rooftops across Waveland and Sheffield, which are planning to operate at 25-percent capacity when games start, suggesting at least a few hundred fans within cheering and booing distance.
“You’re going to hear them loud and clear, too,” pitcher Tyler Chatwood said. “I promise you that.”
BOLTS: Taking the fifth
All you need to know about Alec Mills’ ability to adjust and immediately step into an important role is what he did in an emergency start against the first-place Cardinals at Wrigley last year with the Cubs a half-game out and barely a week left in the season.
He hadn’t started anywhere in a month — and that was in the minors. But the guy who pitched out of the bullpen just three times in the four intervening weeks, pitched two outs deep into the fifth inning that day and didn’t allow a run (the bullpen took care of that, in a loss).
No wonder when Ross talks about Mills replacing the injured Jose Quintana (thumb) in the rotation, he says, “I’ve got a ton of confidence.”
He’s not the only one. “I’ve always had the mindset of doing whatever I can to stay ready and help in any way,” said Mills after pitching a strong three innings in a simulated game Sunday. “Obviously, with an unfortunate injury like this, I think it’s just even more heightened.
“I’m ready to do whatever, whether it needs to be maybe a start here or there, a couple more starts, long guy out of the pen — just whatever I need to do I pride myself on being ready to do that.”
CHATTER: The mask at hand
“It’s a little different. You leave the house with a phone, your keys, your wallet and your mask.”
—Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo on his and his teammates’ new daily normal.
“Everybody is thinking about it, but we try to get here and understand this is our safe zone and we’re trying to create that [within] the things that we’re going to do on and off the field.”
—Ross on players weighing the risk of playing during the pandemic against the safety precautions and protocols the team has built in and around its Wrigley Field bubble.
Both the Cubs and White Sox may benefit this season from the unique MLB schedule which will have all clubs play regionally, instead of across their leagues. Since the A.L. Central and N.L. Central teams are all fairly close, and Chicago is practically in the middle of the action, both the Sox and Cubs will rank near the bottom for miles traveled over the course of the regular season, according to MLB Network.
During their 2020 schedule release show, MLB Network displayed a graphic saying the Cubs will travel the second-fewest miles at 4,071 and the White Sox will travel sixth-fewest at 4,750 miles. It’s important to note that may not give them an edge in the regular season, as the other teams to round out the list are all Central division opponents as well: the Brewers, Tigers, Cardinals and Reds.
But when it comes time for the playoffs, that rest may pay off-- especially if either team faces off against a team from the West. All of the top-five teams for most miles traveled come from the A.L. and N.L. West, ranging from 11,332 miles traveled for the Rockies to a whopping 14,706 miles traveled for the Rangers. In a condensed season, with significantly less rest, that long travel could take a toll.