US will forgive cheat Lance, says Johnson

DISGRACED cyclist Lance Armstrong will be forgiven by the American public within “a few months” now that he has admitted cheating his way to seven Tour de France wins, says former sprinter and fellow doper Ben Johnson.

Armstrong ended years of vehement denials last week when he confessed to chat show host Oprah Winfrey that he used a cocktail of banned substances and illegal techniques during his most successful years.

The explosive interview met with a mixed reaction, with some critics accusing Armstrong of a lack of contrition, and has prompted some of the American’s former backers to prepare multi-million dollar lawsuits.

But Johnson, who was stripped of his 100m gold medal at the 1988 Olympics for using steroids, believes Armstrong is on track to be accepted in his homeland.

“The American people will forgive him. I don’t think it’s going to be a tough time for him to make a living. It’s going to be fine for him in a few months,” said Johnson. “The worst thing to happen to him right now is that he’s a guy who liked to bully people and be in control and was never wrong, always right.”

Texan company SCA Promotions could file a $12m (£7.5m) lawsuit against Armstrong this week, one of its lawyers said yesterday.