Lance Armstrong: America will forgive him - Ben Johnson

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 during the week.

And Johnson, who was banned for taking steroids at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, has some sympathy for Armstrong.

"American people will forgive him," the Canadian told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek programme.

Ben Johnson: A troubled career

Ben Johnson
  • Born: 30 December 1961
  • Won the 100m at the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a world record 9.79 seconds
  • Stripped of the title three days later after it was revealed he had failed a doping test
  • Admitted the offence a year later at a Canadian government investigation
  • Returned to the sport in 1991 but was found guilty of doping in 1993
  • Ban was overturned in 1999 and Johnson was given leave to appeal
  • Failed a further test in late 1999

"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.

Armstrong could face an examination of his financial power with a Texan company planning to file a lawsuit next week to recoup $12m from him in relation to bonuses paid for wins in three of his Tour victories.