Lance Armstrong is barred from participating in sanctioned sporting events, including bike races and triathlons. But he has not been banned from golf courses.
So he continues to chip away out there, his world still a work in progress one year after his televised confession to Oprah Winfrey in January 2013.
"I've been staying fit and even have my handicap down to a 9," Armstrong told USA TODAY Sports in an exclusive interview. "Been wanting to break 80 and could never manage to do it. Then out of the blue one day I shoot 74. Since then I can't break an egg. Frustrating game. "
Such is life for Armstrong these days. If it's not golf, it's his endless personal redemption project.
On that front, he also manages an occasional breakthrough, including apologies delivered to some of those he trampled in pursuit of fame and fortune in professional cycling.
It remains complicated. Armstrong has been sued for tens of millions of dollars, including one case filed by the federal government that could drag on for years. Some of the people he bullied won't return his calls or won't accept his attempted apologies, including longtime nemesis Betsy Andreu, who says Armstrong is still besmirching her with a whisper campaign.
As his battles drag on, Armstrong still doesn't appear to be hurting financially even if his legal costs mount. He's spent time traveling, his destinations including Hawaii, Colorado and Europe.
"Most importantly, my kids are happy and healthy," he said.
Meanwhile, Armstrong has yet to deliver on his promise to provide full disclosure about his misdeeds in cycling, including previously undisclosed details about who, how and when.
"I will spend and be committed to spending as long as I have to to make amends," Armstrong told Winfrey one year ago.
The apology tour
Armstrong's cycle of lies spit out an assorted array of former teammates, journalists and others he demeaned, smeared and bullied for daring to defy his wishes or tell the truth.
He recently traveled to Europe to apologize to at least two of them - cyclists Christophe Bassons and Filippo Simeoni. He traveled to Florida and had dinner with Emma O'Reilly, the masseuse he once called a prostitute and alcoholic after she blew the whistle on him.
Armstrong also settled a lawsuit involving David Walsh, the sportswriter Armstrong once vilified for daring to raise suspicions about his spectacular performances.
"I am traveling the world because I want to," Armstrong said. "I am ashamed and embarrassed by some of my previous actions. I am truly sorry. Some people have accepted that and some haven't."
Hard feelings still swirl with former Tour de France champ Greg LeMond, whose bitter history with Armstrong goes back to 2001, when LeMond dared to question his involvement Michele Ferrari, a doctor linked to doping scandals. Armstrong has yet to make amends with LeMond.
Until recently, Armstrong also has not been able to make contact with Tyler Hamilton, the former teammate who endured Armstrong's wrath after telling the world about him on "60 Minutes" in 2011.
"They did connect," said Melinda Travis, spokeswoman for Hamilton. "But no concrete plans have been made (to meet)."
It's a different story with former teammate Frankie Andreu and his wife Betsy, two others he smeared over the years. He called them to tell them he was sorry the day before he sat down with Oprah. But Betsy Andreu asked for an in-person apology and has not been granted one because Armstrong said he does not trust her.
"He won't cop to the truth," Betsy Andreu said. "If he is truly sorry, he'd speak the truth. He refuses to be held accountable, refuses to cooperate with USADA; instead, he's turned himself into the victim. Sorry means nothing if there is no action to back it up."
Armstrong sees it differently.
"I have apologized to Betsy," he said. "Perhaps with some people, saying I'm sorry will never be enough. I said I was sorry and I meant it."
There are some questions Armstrong still hasn't answered.
Armstrong confessed to Winfrey that he was guilty of doping and lied about it for more than a decade. He didn't get into details. After the interview, filmmaker Alex Gibney asked him a simple question:
When did you start using such performance-enhancing drugs?
He had already admitted it in general terms. But as for sharing that detail with Gibney, a man he had known for years ...
"He wouldn't tell me," Gibney told USA TODAY Sports. "He'd be vague. We know it was 1994 or '95, but we don't know exactly when or how. I'm thinking, 'Really? After all this time?' It's frustrating."
Armstrong's answer - or lack thereof - illustrates the suspended state of his image rehabilitation: the perception that he's holding back and not coming clean for legal or other self-serving reasons.
Armstrong has his own reason.
"Oprah is not the place," he said this week. "Gibney is not the place. The place to answer those questions are with some sort of global effort to reform the sport. When I'm in that chair at the right time and the right place, I will answer every question."
He just doesn't want it to be through the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and its chief executive, Travis Tygart, the person Armstrong blamed for singling him out unfairly with a lifetime ban from sanctioned competition.
Instead, Armstrong plans to cooperate with a recently formed independent commission funded by the International Cycling Union (UCI). Its plan is to investigate cycling's doping problem and UCI's role in it.
Yet Armstrong's participation there might not be so simple, either. USADA spokeswoman Annie Skinner told USA TODAY Sports this week that Armstrong has repeatedly rejected chances to cooperate and "finally shut the door on the chance at the end of 2013."
USADA claims jurisdiction over Armstrong as the national anti-doping agency. Asked whether rules allow Armstrong to make a deal directly with the commission without going through USADA, Skinner replied:
"The rules are clear that he would have to testify fully and truthfully under oath to us, and there was really no good reason for him to refuse to cooperate, unless he is only sorry that he was caught and does not genuinely want to help the effort to ensure that no athlete has to face a culture where they must use dangerous drugs in order to win."
In the case of the United States of America vs. Armstrong, a recent court filing shows a proposed date for a pretrial conference - May 16, 2016.
Unless the case is settled, the legal wrangling could drag on - with dirty details coming out drip by drip through seemingly endless court proceedings. And the longer Armstrong fights the case to protect his fortune, the less apologetic he is likely to appear, further hurting his public image.
"The more he parses things to secure his legal position, the more people get pissed off at him, like `Dude, can you not just come clean?'" said Gibney, who directed the recent documentary, The Armstrong Lie, and who was in the room when Winfrey interviewed Armstrong. "I think the satisfying ending for people (in the Armstrong saga) may have to wait until after the legal proceedings are over."
Meanwhile, his army of attorneys doesn't want Armstrong testifying under oath if they can help it, if only because faded memories about events from long ago could lead to testimony that could be portrayed as inconsistent. On Nov. 21, Armstrong was scheduled to testify in a deposition as part of a lawsuit filed against him by Acceptance Insurance, a company that sought to recover $3 million in bonuses paid to Armstrong for winning the Tour de France from 1999 to 2001.
A Texas judge confirmed the date, ensuring Armstrong would show up. It was going to be the first time Armstrong testified under oath since he lied and denied doping under oath in a separate case in 2005 and 2006. But the new deposition never happened.
A day before that scheduled deposition, Armstrong decided he'd rather pay Acceptance an undisclosed amount to end the case rather than testify about all those details.
It was one of five lawsuits filed against Armstrong since Oprah, all of which cite his confession to her in claiming he defrauded them of money. Of those five suits, one has settled (Acceptance) and another was dismissed by a federal judge -- a suit brought by readers of his autobiographies.
Three others are active, including the federal civil case that was started by former teammate Floyd Landis. After joining Landis' case last year, the federal government is suing for fraud on behalf of the U.S. Postal Service, claiming it never would have paid $40 million to sponsor Armstrong's cycling team if it knew he was violating the sponsorship contract by using blood transfusions and performance-enhancing drugs. If the government wins and succeeds in proving damages, the amount of damages could triple, into the $100-million range.
Armstrong declined to talk about the lawsuits. But a representative previously told USA TODAY Sports that his attorneys wouldn't allow Armstrong to be taken advantage of by opportunistic attorneys -- and that they would fight cases that lacked merit.
Armstrong also stands by his assertion that he did not dope during his comeback to the Tour de France in 2009. Tygart believes he did. Gibney suspected it, too.
"Ultimately, they'll have a test for blood transfusions. And when they do, they'll use that test on the 2009 samples I hope," Armstrong said. "Not sure what this will do to the overall standings but my (Tour de France) in 2009 was clean . USADA told the world the chances were one in a million. I look forward to the proof that that performance was indeed 'one in a million'. "
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