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Pete Rose on Lance Armstrong: 'Come Clean' Now

When the world finally gets to see Lance Armstrong admit he used performance-enhancing drugs on Thursday night, one man will be watching with intense interest.

Pete Rose. (Read More: Lance Armstrong Gave Evidence to Feds: Court)

Rose's name was never attached to performance-enhancing drugs, but his brand, image and life was negatively impacted by not admitting something soon enough.

In Rose's case, it was betting on baseball.

Both for doing it — and denying it — Rose was banned from baseball for life and cannot be voted into the Hall of Fame despite being baseball's all-time hits leader. (Read More: Lance Armstrong's Livestrong in Jeopardy? )

"I did it the hard way, don't do it like me," he told CNBC. "Come clean as quickly as you possibly can because one thing I know is if he comes clean, it's going to take a load off of his shoulders.

Oprah Winfrey speaks with Lance Armstrong during an interview regarding the controversy surrounding his cycling career January 14, 2013 in Austin, Texas.
Getty Images
Oprah Winfrey speaks with Lance Armstrong during an interview regarding the controversy surrounding his cycling career January 14, 2013 in Austin, Texas.

Rose's point is that there will be a catharsis from no longer living a lie.

"Once you do it, you say to yourself why in the hell didn't I do it 10 years ago? Why didn't I do that 5 years ago?," said Rose, who admitted he should have made his confession long before 2004. "You sit there, and you read about the guy competing against you knows you did it, and your teammate knows you did it."

"So, he's been ducking the question."

In a sweeping two-day interview with Oprah Wifrey, Armstrong is reported to have made some sort of admission about cheating and not being truthful about it — for years. (Read More: The Banker Who Put His Faith in Armstrong )

However, questions are swirling around the interview. How exposed will he be to lawsuits? Is there anything to gain? Why now? Why is he doing it at all?

Certainly, none of those questions can be answered immediately, although some sources tell CNBC a bulk of his estimated $125 million fortune could be in jeopardy. After years of denials, and even berating journalists for asking about it and former teammates for accusing him, there isn't much of a trust.

Perhaps, Armstrong truly wants to find a way to compete — and compete cleanly — in a long-term effort to restore his name.

Put simply, Armstrong might be so bottled up in his life that he has to do this to just live some semblance of a normal life.

Whatever the reason, there is tremendous legal and personal risk involved.

But to Pete Rose, none of that matters. It's a positive step, he said, regardless of the legal ramifications.

"Most of the time in this country, when [fans] understand that you understand that you made a mistake, they're willing to give you a second chance," he said. "It takes some time and doesn't happen overnight.

"I'm still trying to get fans back."

—By CNBC's Brian Shactman; Follow him on Twitter: @bshactman

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