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The South Australian government will ask disgraced cyclist LANCE ARMSTRONG "to return the money he was paid to race at the Tour Down Under," according to the AAP. Premier JAY WEATHERILL said that the state government "had previously received legal advice that it could not demand the American return his appearance fees, understood to be several million dollars." But following reports that Armstrong has confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs and that he is willing to return U.S. taxpayer funds that went to his team, Weatherill said the state government was "more than willing" to ask for its money back. Weatherill: "Mr. Armstrong has deceived the cycling community around the world and many South Australians will feel they were deceived by him. We'd be more than happy for Mr. Armstrong to make any repayment of monies to us" (AAP, 1/15). In Sydney, Michael Idato noted media and brand consultant JANE CARO said that the choice of OPRAH WINFREY to interview Armstrong's confession "is revealing in itself." Caro said, "Winfrey is the proxy for throwing yourself on the American public's mercy. If you're going on Oprah you're 'fessing up to something. You're giving us mitigating circumstances." But Caro said that "how Armstrong handles himself in the interview" will determine whether it works because TV "responds to the truth." Caro: "It's very good at picking phoniness. And people hate that more [than] the sin itself. His sin is one thing, it has been his trenchant denial for so long that [it] has actually condemned him much more." The interview will air on Friday at 1pm in Australia on Winfrey's network, OWN, in the U.S. and on Australia's Discovery channel simultaneously (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 1/16). QUOTEN METER's Manuel Weis reported pay-TV channel Discovery Channel will show Winfrey's exclusive interview with Armstrong live in Germany. The channel "has secured the rights to the interview for Germany." The channel "will air the interview live at 3am Friday morning and at 7:15pm in a rerun." In addition, free-to-air TV channel DMAX "also will air the interview at 7:15pm on Friday evening (QUOTEN METER, 1/15).
JUMPING ON THE BANDWAGON: In N.Y., Albergotti & O'Connell cited sources saying that U.S. Justice Department officials have "recommended joining a federal whistleblower lawsuit aimed at clawing back sponsorship money" from Armstrong. Former cyclist FLOYD LANDIS in the suit alleges that Armstrong and team managers "defrauded the U.S. government when they accepted money from the U.S. Postal Service." The "deadline for the Justice Department to join the suit is Thursday" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/15). Also in N.Y., Thompson & O'Keeffe reported Armstrong is "in talks to return some of the millions of taxpayer dollars he received" from the USPS, which sponsored his team from '98-04. The negotiations "may be an attempt to avoid criminal prosecution or prevent the government from joining the whistleblower suit filed" by Landis, who was stripped of his '06 Tour de France victory because of doping. Armstrong Monday taped an interview with Winfrey where he reportedly confessed to doping, but not everyone in a group of close friends and advisers "thought the sit-down was a good idea." Sources said that some of his advisers "believe it will increase his liability in civil litigation beyond the whistleblower case" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/15).
TALKING THE TALK...: The WSJ's Albergotti & O'Connell in a separate piece wrote under the header, "Behind Lance Armstrong's Decision To Talk." Armstrong's legal team had been "divided about a possible confession, with some expressing concern about its potential effect on continuing litigation." His team includes ROBERT LUSKIN and PATRICK SLEVIN at Patton Boggs, JOHN KEKER and ELLIOT PETERS at Keker & Van Nest, and lawyers from Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton. Armstrong also had been "regularly consulting" his attorney TIM HERMAN. Currently, it is "unclear what kind of financial effect his problems are having" on Armstrong (WSJ, 1/15). CBS’ Jack Ford said, “You have to believe that there were some significant battles going on inside of his camp. Public relations people probably saying, ‘Look, you need to take control of this story, move forward. We’re a forgiving nation. If you want to be able do things and resurrect your image you have to apologize and get out there.’ But I got to believe that his lawyers were saying, ‘That’s a terrible idea,’ because legally you’re now going to be exposing yourself to all kinds of civil suits” (“CBS This Morning,” CBS, 1/15).
...WALKING THE WALK: Winfrey Monday morning said she would “choose not to characterize” whether she thought Armstrong was genuinely “contrite” during the interview, which will air Thursday and Friday on OWN. She said, “I would rather people make their own decisions about whether he was contrite or not. I felt that he was thoughtful. I thought that he was serious. I thought that he certainly had prepared himself for this moment. I would say that he met the moment" ("CBS This Morning," 1/15).
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Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) club Bayern Munich "has appointed MARKO PESIC as managing director." The 36-year-old, who previously held the position of sports director, succeeds THOMAS OEHLER "who stepped down in December" (SPOX, 1/11). ... The British Paralympic Association revealed that PENNY BRISCOE will be the Chef de Mission for the British team at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi. It will be Briscoe's sixth Paralympic Games (British Paralympic Association).
COACHES/MANAGERS: Second Bundesliga club 1860 Munich has revealed that former England national team coach SVEN GÖRAN ERIKSSON "will join the team's coaching staff." The 64-year-old Swede "will form a coaching duo with current head coach ALEXANDER SCHMIDT" (SPORTSCHAU, 1/15). Club CEO ROBERT SCHÄFER said Eriksson "is a coach of the world." Schäfer: "We now have to try to use his wealth of experience for our benefit." 1860 Munich Chair OTTO STEINER said that the exact role of Eriksson, "who has served as technical director of the Thai club BEC Tero Sasana since September and has also managed Roma, Manchester City, Lazio, Sampdoria, Benfica and Leicester among others, will still need to be defined" (REUTERS, 1/15). ... Qatar has "parted ways with Brazil's PAULO AUTUORI and named his assistant FAHAD THANI" as head coach of the national football team. The Qatar FA said in a statement on its website that it had "mutually agreed to end the tenure of Autuori, who replaced fellow Brazilian SEBASTIAO LAZARONI" in February (REUTERS, 1/15).
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German Hockey League (DEL) club Hannover Scorpions "has signed U.S. forward COREY QUIRK." The 26-year-old, who previously played for Finnish club JYP Jyväskylä, "agreed to a contract until the end of the season" (DPA, 1/15). ... Former German national team football player TIM BOROWSKI "started his management trainee program at Bundesliga club Werder Bremen on Monday." The 32-year-old "is supposed to get an inside look of each corporate division during his 18-month program" (SID, 1/14). ... Bundesliga club Bayern Munich "dismissed reports the club is in conversations with PEP GUARDIOLA to take over as coach for next season." The former Barcelona coach, who has admitted he wants to return to coaching after taking a year out, "has been linked with the Bundesliga giants, according to a report in Sky Sports Italy." Bayern's current coach JUPP HEYNCKES "is only under contract until the end of the season and has not yet indicated whether he intends to stay on." However, Bayern Media Dir MARKUS HÖRWICK described the reports as "complete rubbish". (PA, 1/15).
USOC Senior Manager of Communications JON MASON: "The #Sochi2014 setup is cool. Village and venues high on the sides of the valley. Gondolas connect the venues to transport lines." ... "The scale of construction here is staggering. Cranes everywhere, huge projects #Sochi2014"
Former tennis player ANDREW CASTLE: "Shocked to hear that ATP Chairman Brad Drewett has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease. With best wishes to him and his family."
Brazilian journalist FERNANDO DUARTE: "Brazil have announced a friendly against Russia at Stamford Bridge on March 25th. Jokes about the nationality of stadium owner in 5,4,3..."
V8X_Magazine's ADRIAN MUSOLINO: "V8 Supercars new media deal disappointing. Amount and length of deal not good. Series squeezed by other codes. Shows true level of interest."
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