Austin community reacts to Lance Armstrong's confession


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist DAVID GARDNER

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

Posted on January 18, 2013 at 6:57 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 18 at 7:21 PM

AUSTIN -- It was the long awaited interview that has become the talk of Austin and the U.S. According to Nielsen, about 3.2 million people tuned into the OWN Network Thursday night to hear Lance Armstrong confess to Oprah Winfrey.

"Yes or no," Winfrey asked Armstrong. "Did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance?"

His answer was simple. "Yes," replied the disgraced cyclist. 

Armstrong's one word answer and the conversation that followed has sparked mixed reaction from the community that has hailed him a hero.

On Guadalupe Street, posters with his picture and the word "Dope" are plastered on newspaper stands.

"I don't know, I thought it was kind of creative," said University of Texas student Joel Meyer. 

"It's not unexpected," added student Shanon Moore.

Armstrong said he used performance enhancing drugs throughout his cycling career, and if given the chance to do it over, he says he would have come clean when he found out that the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) was going to pick up a case against him.

"To go back to that moment, I would say 'Guys, give me three days, I'm gonna call,' and again, this is in hindsight, I can't go do it. 'Let me call some people. Let me call my family, let me call my mother, let me call my sponsors, let me call my foundation.'"

LIVESTRONG Foundation officials say earlier this week, Armstrong did apologize to the staff. They would not talk to KVUE News on camera, but instead released a statement saying, in part:

"Even in the wake of our disappointment, we also express our gratitude to Lance as a survivor for the drive, devotion and spirit he brought to serving cancer patients...Lance is no longer on the foundation's board, but he is our founder and we will always be grateful."

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell expressed similar sentiment. He also released a statement saying:

"I am disappointed that Lance misled me and so many others in the Austin community and beyond. However, my goal is to focus on the overwhelming good created by the LIVESTRONG Foundation and I will always be grateful to him for starting the organization that continues to serve the millions of people around the globe fighting cancer."

But Leffingwell and other city leaders could soon have a tough call to make. The bike path in downtown Austin bears Armstrong's name, and the mayor's office is now getting calls from Austinites who want the name changed.

"Unfortunately, I would probably be in favor of changing the name. I hate to say that, but I think that's probably the right thing to do," said cyclist Jeff Paul.

Then there are others who say Armstrong's good outweighs his bad.

"He's done a ton to raise awareness on the bicycling culture in general," said Meyer.

Part two of Winfrey's interview with Armstrong runs Friday on the OWN Network at 8 p.m.

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