Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - Doping in cycling - 17 January

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 17 January

The most celebrated cyclist of recent times on cusp of admitting he took performance-enhancing drugs

By Kerra Maddern

He was the biggest name in cycling, the seemingly-invincible champion who won one of the world's most grueling sports contests seven times - after successfully battling cancer as a young man.

Yet Lance Armstrong now has a very different reputation, after being accused last year by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (ADA) of organising "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen".

Doping is when sportspeople cheat by taking banned substances - such as anabolic steroids - that enhance their performance.

Cycling has been beset with such scandals in the last two decades but the Armstrong case is by far the worst. The aftermath of the ADA report rocked cycling and the wider sporting community. Armstrong was stripped of his titles won from 1998 onwards, including his seven victories in the Tour de France, the toughest of all road cycle races.

Armstrong also stepped down from his role of chairman at the charity he founded to support people affected by cancer, Livestrong, to "spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career". In recent years, he had become almost as famous for his work with Livestrong as for his cycling victories.

However he had not spoken publicly before about the allegations against him - but this week an interview he has given with Oprah Winfrey will air on US television.

The two and a half hour grilling will be shown over two nights this evening (at 2am GMT) and tomorrow on Winfrey's own TV network. It was recorded in Armstrong's hometown of Austin, Texas on Monday.

Viewers are promised Mr Armstrong will "address" the alleged doping scandal and it has been widely reported that he has used the interview to issue at least a partial admission that he cheated.

See our earlier story: Tour de France record holder to be stripped of sporting honours


  • Which athletes do you most admire, and why?
  • Would it change your opinion of someone if you found out that they had cheated to achieve their success?
  • Do you think that athletes may feel under pressure to use performance enhancers?
  • What should you do if someone is pressuring you to do something that you don't want to do?

Related resources

Peer pressure

  • Explore the issue of peer pressure with these scenario-based activities.

Enhancement drugs: wrong or not?

  • Debate the issue of substance use in sports with this topic guide from Instituteofideas.

Drugs in sports

  • Introduce the different types of drugs and the dangers they can cause to health as well as career.

Podcast on performance enhancing drugs

  • A great revision podcast on the use of performance enhancing drugs.

Further news resources

First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week

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The use of religious symbolism in public places and the right to wear items of religious clothing and jewellery is the subject of heated debate in many countries.

There is growing momentum around the world to re-examine the idea that all drugs should be against the law.

Why does hot water freeze faster than cold water? This conundrum has puzzled scientists since it was discovered by an African pupil 50 years ago.

In the news archive index