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Disgraced cyclist upbeat on whistleblower case, says no-one else to blame for his doping

Lance Armstrong says despite the fallout from the ban handed down to him in 2012 by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), his “day to day life is positive” and that he won’t blame anyone else for his decision to dope.

He also says he’s confident he will win the whistleblower lawsuit brought against him by former team mate Floyd Landis, and that he has plans for a third instalment of his autobiography in which he will put his version of what he describes as a “shit storm, a fall from grace, a disgrace."

Speaking by phone from his home in Aspen, Colorado to CNN’s Matt Majendie, Armstrong said that while he had received abuse on social media and had been ostracised from the cycling community, that hadn’t spilt over into his everyday life.

"In this day and age, there's plenty of outlets for people to hurl the most heinous comments that you can think of, you only have to look at the comments that will be at the bottom of this piece," said Armstrong.

"But,” he went on, “day-to-day life is positive [No change there – Ed]. I never get crap, not once, and I'm surprised by that. Sure, I sometimes get the vibe that someone wants to say something, but it's never happened."

Armstrong, whose net worth before his ban was estimated at $125 million and who has since lost lucrative sponsorship deals from companies including Oakley and Nike, faces a potentially ruinous lawsuit that could cost him nearly $100 million should it go against him and the court award the maximum penalty possible.

Brought under federal whistleblower legislation by former team mate Landis it alleges that government money, in the form of the US Postal Service’s sponsorship of Armstrong’s team, was misused by being spent on a doping programme.

The US Department of Justice has joined the action but Armstrong is bullish that he will prevail – although seasoned Lance-watchers will note that he was similarly confident he could rebut allegations of doping, right up to the point he confessed.

"I'm very confident that that's a winner for us," he insisted. "I don't think anyone can truly argue the U.S. Postal Service was damaged. They made a lot of money in the deal and got what they bargained for.

"I worked my ass off for them and I'm proud of it. Furthermore there wasn't a technical relationship between myself and the U.S. Postal Service. In many ways, I'm no different to Tyler Hamilton or Floyd Landis or whoever. We were just independent."

Armstrong admitted that he likes a scrap, but acknowledged that at times that has led to him hurting people, not least those who went public with first-hand knowledge of his doping, or at least queried his performances.

Those include former team mate Frankie Andreu and his wife Betsy, ex-USPS masseuse Emma O’Reilly, and thre-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond.

"I definitely have a 'fuck you' attitude," said Armstrong. "I fight in training, I fight to win races, I fight to motivate the guys in the team.

"That brazenness is a great thing for that but it's not a great place for personal relationships. I just didn't have the switch to turn that off. It helped me on the bike but it also got me where I am today."

Armstrong insists he is contrite, but as Majendie points out, it is the years of insistence that he wasn’t doping and the bullying of some of those who tried to get the truth out there that leads many to question his sincerity now.

"I was good at playing the part," Armstrong told the journalist. "After the 850th time, it's not like I'm going to say, 'Matt, you seem like a nice guy, I'm going to be honest with you.' Once you say 'no' you have to keep saying 'no.'

"If this stuff hadn't taken place with the federal investigation [shelved at the star of 2012 but which led to USADA opening its case against him], I'd probably still be saying 'no' with the same conviction and tone as before. But that gig is up."

Many believe that despite his televised confession to Oprah Winfrey in January last year, which came three months after USADA had issued his lifetime ban and stripped him of results including those seven Tour de France wins between 1999 and 2005, Armstrong still isn’t telling the whole truth.

While USADA insisted in its Reasoned Decision that he had doped after coming out of retirement for the 2009 season, Armstrong says he didn’t, and former UCI president Pat McQuaid, ratifying the lifetime ban, agreed with the cyclist. 

It’s not lost on some that it is in Armstrong interests to continue to deny having doped during that period, despite USADA’s insistence he did.

That’s because any admission would immediately leave him open to lawsuits from former sponsors and the like looking to recoup money, with any such cases, unlike those relating to previous years, not statute barred.

But Armstrong says he plans to bring out a third autobiographical book in which he promises to tell the truth – although given that his first two, It’s Not About The Bike and Every Second Counts, are now seen by many as works of fiction, it’s questionable how large the audience might be.

"I need to write a book and it needs to be pretty raw," he said.  "The book needs to be pretty intense and transparent. I need to 'boom' -- put it out there and let it sit. The sooner the better. It has to be the right book, the right tone and there has to be totally no bullshit."

After spending much of 2013 out of the limelight following his televised confession, Armstrong’s profile has risen again in recent months, including meeting with some of those he wronged in the past such as O’Reilly, but he insists it’s not part of an organised campaign to rehabilitate himself.

The man who once ensured that those who queried the legitimacy of his performances were frozen out of the sport also insisted he is blaming no-one else for his decision to dope, and his subsequent fall from grace.

"I'm a big boy, I made my own decisions and I need to be held accountable for that," he maintained. "I'm not going to blame people. A lot of people have blamed everyone else but that's bullshit.

"No-one forced me or bullied me, so I'm not going to say, 'It's not my fault.' I blame myself, that's the bottom line,” he added.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

14 comments

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Binky [116 posts] 1 year ago
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Of course life is good for him. He's still got shed loads of money from all the people and company's he conned, regardless of how many lawsuits he has pending, he's still going to be well offf. He is also getting paid for interviews, adverts etc that he is being offered.

What about the people he bullied out of the sport and those he got blacklisted, how is there life?

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Hypoxic [31 posts] 1 year ago
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Why doesn't the media put it's money where it's mouth is and treat Pharmstrong with the indifference he deserves. Any crap story about him is exactly what he wants. It won't be long and we'll be hearing about some bullshit Hollywood movie about his dirty career. Let him and his years be wiped from history as the TDF have already done. He is nothing! And last time I checked, this was a website about cycling, not existential philoshophy! Let's stop talking about a nobody!

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tomturcan [65 posts] 1 year ago
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His only chance of rehabilitation is to work with USADA and the UCI to eradicate the shady industry that sits behind doping. Full disclosure of everything he knows, and cooperation in catching those still at it. That doesn't seem to be happening.

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Him Up North [235 posts] 1 year ago
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Armstrong is the pantomime villain, and the media know it. They also know when you parade a pantomime villain there will always be a crowd to shout "boo!" and "hiss!". There will always be a few in that crowd rooting for him too. I'm not saying he doesn't deserve the boos - he SO does - but he won't be ignored or treated with indifference. The media don't have the willpower or self-restrain for it.

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Zermattjohn [201 posts] 1 year ago
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"But,” he went on, “day-to-day life is positive [No change there – Ed]. ...

 41

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DaveE128 [462 posts] 1 year ago
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article wrote:

""I'm a big boy, I made my own decisions and I need to be held accountable for that," he maintained. "I'm not going to blame people. A lot of people have blamed everyone else but that's bullshit.
"No-one forced me or bullied me, so I'm not going to say, 'It's not my fault.' I blame myself, that's the bottom line,” he added.

Seems to me he's basically say that he thinks he's better than the people he bullied into doping because he was a "bigger boy" than them.

Doesn't sound very contrite to me.

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surly_by_name [355 posts] 1 year ago
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This story does not belong on a cycling website. Road.cc - you should be ashamed.

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andyp [1444 posts] 1 year ago
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surly_by_name wrote:

This story does not belong on a cycling website. Road.cc - you should be ashamed.

um...why? He was a cyclist. It's relevant to cycling.

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pakennedy [135 posts] 1 year ago
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Life is positive? Positive for EPA and steroids?

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pwake [374 posts] 1 year ago
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He was right about the comments...

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Stanley [21 posts] 1 year ago
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Lance is ace. So is his kit, his fit wife

He should be king

Long live lance

His legs took him over the line proving drugs work

Get over it

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spxxky [5 posts] 1 year ago
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Armstrong haters are pathetic... how many years now and you're STILL f'ing obsessed with it

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daddyELVIS [655 posts] 1 year ago
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Armstrong haters - hypocrites!

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utility_cyclist [16 posts] 1 year ago
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Quote: "If this stuff hadn't taken place with the federal investigation [shelved at the start of 2012 but which led to USADA opening its case against him], I'd probably still be saying 'no' with the same conviction and tone as before. But that gig is up." Unquote.
So in other words, he had taken a tactical decision to dope in order to gain a competitive advantage, lied to conceal it, and would not have admitted doping if he had not been forced to do so.
Why don't people let the LA story drop? I think one major reason is because remarks like the one above suggest a total lack of repentance. If someone screws up and admits it, then there is a way for people to forgive them. How can you forgive someone who essentially still seems to think that he was justified in acting like he did?