Disgraced former champion cyclist Lance Armstrong said he would take banned substances again if faced with the same circumstances that saw him start doping in 1995, according to an AFP wire story. In an interview with the BBC, the 43-year-old, who has been stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles and banned from cycling for life, said it was not possible to win cleanly when he was dominating the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005 but that the race could now be won by a ‘clean’ rider.
Asked, if he would cheat again, Armstrong said: “If I was racing in 2015, no, I wouldn’t do it again because I don’t think you have to. If you take me back to 1995, when doping was completely pervasive, I would probably do it again.”
Armstrong, who insisted he was clean when he came out of retirement in 2009 and 2010 — contrary to United States Anti-Doping Agency’s report — added: “When I made the decision, when my team made that decision, when the whole peloton made that decision, it was a bad decision and an imperfect time. But it happened. And I know what happened because of that. I know what happened to the sport, I saw its growth.”
Armstrong was stripped of his Tour titles and given a life-ban from cycling by USADA in 2012, having denied for years he was a drug cheat. His denials were proven lies by a USADA report which included 1,000 pages of evidence against him. The cancer-survivor eventually made a public confession in a television interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2013.
Speaking from his home in Austin, Texas, the father of five said the “fallout” from his confession had been “heavy, tough, trying and required patience.” He also said he deserved a reduction in his ban after twice speaking to the Cycling Independent Reform Commission, a group looking to clean up the sport.
He also hopes to have his Tour titles be restored, saying the absence of a winner was equivalent to the years when the race wasn’t run because of the First and Second World Wars. He added that good had come from his participation in the sport, saying Trek Bicycles, his supplier, had increased sales from $100 million to $1 billion as the story of how he overcame cancer to again become a champion racer brought new fans into cycling, while his charity foundation, Livestrong, was able to raise $500 million. “Do we want to take it away?” he said. “I don’t think anybody says ‘yes’.”
As for the Tour de France titles now erased from the record books, Armstrong said: “I think there has to be a winner, I’m just saying that as a fan. There’s a huge block in World War I with no winners, and there’s another block in World War II, and then it seems like there’s another world war. I don’t think history is stupid, history rectifies a lot of things. If you ask me what happens in 50 years, I don’t think it sits empty … I feel like I won those Tours.”
Asked whether the world was ready to accept his return to public life, Armstrong said: “Selfishly, I would say ‘yeah, we’re getting close to that time.’ But that’s me, my word doesn’t matter any more. What matters is what people collectively think, whether that’s the cycling community, the cancer community. Listen, of course I want to be out of time-out, what kid doesn’t?”
He said his life had “thinned out” and “slowed from 100mph to 10”, but added he would like to return to “50, 55.”