Lance Armstrong and Caitlyn Jenner launch podcast on ‘fairness’ of trans athletes in sport

Caitlyn Jenner (left) and Lance Armstrong (right) sit next to each other as they prepare to launch a podcast on trans inclusion in sport

Drugs cheat Lance Armstrong and former Olympian turned right-wing commentator Caitlyn Jenner are launching a podcast on the “fairness” of trans athletes competing in sports.

The former professional cyclist announced the start of the series,The Forward, in a string of tweets and a video on Sunday (25 June).

The podcast aims to “have a conversation in and around trans in sports”, Armstrong said in the video, stating that he isn’t afraid to be “fired, shamed or cancelled” as it is “an important conversation”. 

In 2012, Armstrong was stripped of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles and banned from competitive cycling for life. The following year, during an interview with Oprah Winfrey, he admitted having used performance-enhancing drugs.

In 2018, Armstrong agreed to pay $5 million (approximately £3.3m at the time) after the federal government brought a civil lawsuit against him for cheating while riding for the publicly-funded Postal Service team.

“Is there not a world in which one can be supportive of the transgender community and curious about the fairness of trans athletes in sport yet not be labelled a transphobe or a bigot as we ask questions?” Armstrong asks in a preview for the podcast. “Do we yet know the answers? And do we even want to know the answers?

You may like to watch

“I do. Hence these conversations… a special series of The Forward, beginning Monday, where I dive into this issue with an open mind in an attempt learn as much as possible from all sides of the debate.”

Following the announcement, Armstrong has received widespread criticism, with many questioning why he would join with Jenner to make a podcast about “fairness”.

Since coming out as trans in 2015, Jenner has repeatedly attacked the trans community. She now works as a contributor for Fox News.

Last year, Jenner welcomed a ban on trans women in elite swimming, labelled elsewhere as “deeply discriminatory”, saying: “What’s fair is fair. If you go through male puberty, you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period.”

She also threw her weight behind anti-trans rhetoric around “protecting women’s sports”, stating: “I don’t think biological boys should compete in women’s sports, we have to protect women’s sports… that’s the bottom line.”

Earlier this month, Jenner accused brands such as Bud Light and Target of causing self-inflicted harm after hard-line right-wingers called for boycotts of the brands: on Bud Light for working with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney and Target for selling Pride merchandise in its stores.

Twitter users accused Armstrong of hypocrisy, with some pointing out that perhaps he isn’t the best person to discuss “fairness”.

Users added “context” via a community tool under his video, stating: “Lance Armstrong was not ‘cancelled’. Armstrong was the most dominant and successful professional cyclist in history until 2013 when he was found to have been doping and was stripped of his titles and awards. Armstrong himself later admitted cheating for over a decade.”

CBC News’ Tom Harrington remarked that he was curious to see if Armstrong will document his “own tolerance of debate”.

Harrington asked: “He fired, shamed or cancelled anyone who had reason or knowledge to question his success: journalists, team mates, rivals, even close friends felt his wrath. Will we hear that?”

Trans automotive journalist Victoria Scott also took to Twitter, writing: “Lance Armstrong is so banned from sports that the IOC [International Olympics Committee] can legally call in an airstrike on his location if he joins a game of pickleball, but he’s here to let you know that me playing ladies’ beer league hockey is a grotesque mockery of fairness in competition.”

After tweeting about Armstrong’s new project, political pundit Matthew Dowd received a response from the disgraced cyclist urging him to “climb down from the high horse”. 

Armstrong claimed he was “inviting rational and open dialogue” in a conversation “nobody dares touch”. 

Please login or register to comment on this story.