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But disgraced cyclist justifies cheating by saying most other riders were on EPO at the time

Lance Armstrong says he acted like “a dick” when he denied he was his doping – but he added that he did not regret taking EPO, pointing out that most of his rivals were taking the banned blood booster, too.

The seven-time Tour de France winner, who was stripped of those titles and handed a lifetime ban in 2012, made the admission in a wide-ranging interview with ‘shock jock’ Howard Stern on Sirius XM radio.

During his career, Armstrong regularly responded aggressively to journalists and others – including fellow professional cyclists – who questioned whether he was riding clean.

After confessing to doping in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey in early 2013, Armstrong reached an out-of-court settlement with The Sunday Times, which he had successfully sued for libel as a result of a 2004 article by then chief sports writer David Walsh.

The Irish writer, who won the Sports Journalist of the Year and Journalist of the Year awards in 2012 for his work in helping bring Armstrong to justice, had been one of the Texan’s chief accusers, with his 2004 book LA Confidentiel, co-written with Pierre Ballester, exposing the rider’s cheating.

Another former Sunday Times journalist, ex-pro cyclist Paul Kimmage, clashed with Armstrong in a press conference at the Tour of California in 2009 after he likened him to “a cancer” on cycling – the disease that had nearly claimed his life in the late 1990s.

Armstrong told Stern: “ “The way I acted, the vehement denials and the way I went about defending myself … buddy the ultimate Lance Armstrong torture is put him in front of a laptop, pull up YouTube and make him what some of those press conferences.

“Just such a dick. The way I acted was by far the worst part.”

Another regret Armstrong had was his decision to make a comeback with Astana in 2009, which he suggested provided “a bridge from the past to the future” – the implication being that had he not returned to the sport, he would never have been convicted of doping and would still be recognised as Tour de France champion for those seven editions from 1999 to 2005.

His return to the sport came after the emergence of social media and Twitter in particular allowed fans, journalists and riders to interact in a way never previously possible, throwing fresh suspicion on his achievements.

Speaking to Stern, he passed on a message for his online detractors, saying: “We live in an age where people don’t have to come up to your face to criticise me.

 “No one has ever come up to my face in the last five years and done that.  

“But to people who do it on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, you know what I say; I understand.

“I can’t change it. All I can do is walk this walk I’m on. If I’m at an airport, a bike race, if people criticise me, I’d say I totally understand. I’m sorry.”

Referring to his doping, he said: “EPO is what changed the game. That came in to our sport at exactly the time my generation came into the sport.

“I’m not trying to justify it or make excuses, but it was a long time ago and the culture of the sport was so crazy.

“I wanted to win and I wanted to be the best. I knew I needed a knife as I was going into a knife fight.

“EPO was so powerful. You get a little EPO in your life … it was wow. We had a choice and we made that choice. Nearly everyone made that choice as well.

“There was no test at the time. We made that decision. No excuses.

“Everyone was riding this wave. I was riding it, my team was riding it, my foundations were riding it. You are trying to keep this thing going,” 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.

23 comments

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ianrobo [1211 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes

His own Forward podcast with Hincapie etc was far more illuminating.

Even more so when he listed 9 things Postal did better than the others and Sky say the same, harder training, better docs, better food etc and of course the 10th - doping ...

Sky are catching up

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mikecassie [58 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

He admits he was a dick!  No shit sherlock...  

Could've probably said he is still a dick too but babysteps for LA.  

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SingleSpeed [311 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
ianrobo wrote:

His own Forward podcast with Hincapie etc was far more illuminating.

Even more so when he listed 9 things Postal did better than the others and Sky say the same, harder training, better docs, better food etc and of course the 10th - doping ...

Sky are catching up

 

Everything he did he did better than everyone else, that's why he won so much.

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Rider X [10 posts] 3 months ago
7 likes

Thought it was a good interview.  I know I will get heat for saying that, but people have to start getting over feeling personally slighted.  It was a choice to believe.  And as a person if you lack introspection and stick to your plan at all costs, I can see how you can end-up where lance did.  Make no mistake the whole thing is a monumental culster $@#&, but there are lots of good lessons here, including publics desire for superhero like real-life characters.  We (i.e., society) continue to set ourselves up for false idols.

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moonshadowmetals [2 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

I met him in Texas once when he was riding for Subaru Mongomery, he was a dick then.  No real change here...

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pwake [422 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes
moonshadowmetals wrote:

I met him in Texas once when he was riding for Subaru Mongomery, he was a dick then.  No real change here...

I've met him in Texas a few times (spend a lot of time in Austin, got a house there) and I've never found him to be dick. Maybe you caught him on a bad day; maybe he's changed somewhat or maybe people aren't the two-dimensional cartoon characters that we sometimes seem to wish them to be?

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La Clotte [3 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Which ever way you look at it Lance Armstrong was the most successful Tour rider of his generation in what was a level playing field. On the pretence cycling had been clean for all those years and he had ridden cleanly he would have still have won all seven Tours. No one is justifying doping, especially not Armstrong now. I think if any of us were in his position there is a pretty good chance we would have aggressively defended our position when everything that was important to us was at stake. But that was then and this is now and he is no longer defending his position, the use of EPO, or trying to justify his actions or behaviour. Lance Armstrong was the best rider in the world at the time and I have respect for him that he was just that. We look back on riders such as Pantani through rose tinted spectacles when they were almost certainly as involved in the use of performance enhancing drugs? Why? Just because Pantani is dead and we deemed him to be a "nice guy" whereas we deem Lance to be a "dick"? Lance has been vilified for an entire generation of cycling. Is that fair? I don't think so. Don't make your comments about Lance Armstrong personal as the chances are you dont know him and/or never met him anymore than I ever have. We shouldn't jump on the band wagon of criticising him and making it personal when we dont know the man. He was and is not the axis of all evil. He had the desire, ability, skill and determination to be the best of the best and he was. Sure, he did it using banned substances but he was still better in every way than everyone else using the same banned substances. Not awarding his 7 Tour wins to anyone else is acknowledgement enough that the riders that came 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc etc in all those Tours were using the same substances. That era of cycling is over (we hope), but we shouldn't be guilty of "Lance bashing". It's boring and ignorant of both his achievements and his subsequent apology and regret. I take issue with Simon MacMichael's sub headline saying he is still justifying his use of EPO etc etc....he isn't  and Lance actually says he isn't in the interview. He's merely acknowledging he was part of the culture at the time. We should keep it in proportion. One man is never guilty for an entire generation or other people's choices, all he did was make choices and decisions that made him the best in the world at the time. Sure, he's guilty for taking banned substances but he's not guilty for wanting to have been the best in the world at the time. A noble aspiration badly executed you could say. 

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davel [1242 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes

Alright Lance

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beezus fufoon [673 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

just to be clear...

the non-dick move is generally considered to be - it's a fair cop, I won't do it again, drugs are bad mkay

the dick move is to say - but everyone else was doing it

verdict - still a dick Lance

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La Clotte [3 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
beezus fufoon wrote:

just to be clear...

the non-dick move is generally considered to be - it's a fair cop, I won't do it again, drugs are bad mkay

the dick move is to say - but everyone else was doing it

verdict - still a dick Lance

 

I think he's doing both isn't he? Half a dick then......

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beezus fufoon [673 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
La Clotte wrote:
beezus fufoon wrote:

just to be clear...

the non-dick move is generally considered to be - it's a fair cop, I won't do it again, drugs are bad mkay

the dick move is to say - but everyone else was doing it

verdict - still a dick Lance

 

I think he's doing both isn't he? Half a dick then......

well no - he's saying he was a dick for lying, but still no awareness of his god complex

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davel [1242 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes

@La Clotte: Kind of, after the entire world called him out on Massive Drugs.

Of course you also omitted the career-wrecking bullying.

How's 'half a dick; full psycho; would still go for a beer with him'?

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Edgeley [452 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
La Clotte wrote:

Which ever way you look at it Lance Armstrong was the most successful Tour rider of his generation in what was a level playing field. On the pretence cycling had been clean for all those years and he had ridden cleanly he would have still have won all seven Tours. No one is justifying doping, especially not Armstrong now. I think if any of us were in his position there is a pretty good chance we would have aggressively defended our position when everything that was important to us was at stake. But that was then and this is now and he is no longer defending his position, the use of EPO, or trying to justify his actions or behaviour. Lance Armstrong was the best rider in the world at the time and I have respect for him that he was just that. We look back on riders such as Pantani through rose tinted spectacles when they were almost certainly as involved in the use of performance enhancing drugs? Why? Just because Pantani is dead and we deemed him to be a "nice guy" whereas we deem Lance to be a "dick"? Lance has been vilified for an entire generation of cycling. Is that fair? I don't think so. Don't make your comments about Lance Armstrong personal as the chances are you dont know him and/or never met him anymore than I ever have. We shouldn't jump on the band wagon of criticising him and making it personal when we dont know the man. He was and is not the axis of all evil. He had the desire, ability, skill and determination to be the best of the best and he was. Sure, he did it using banned substances but he was still better in every way than everyone else using the same banned substances. Not awarding his 7 Tour wins to anyone else is acknowledgement enough that the riders that came 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc etc in all those Tours were using the same substances. That era of cycling is over (we hope), but we shouldn't be guilty of "Lance bashing". It's boring and ignorant of both his achievements and his subsequent apology and regret. I take issue with Simon MacMichael's sub headline saying he is still justifying his use of EPO etc etc....he isn't  and Lance actually says he isn't in the interview. He's merely acknowledging he was part of the culture at the time. We should keep it in proportion. One man is never guilty for an entire generation or other people's choices, all he did was make choices and decisions that made him the best in the world at the time. Sure, he's guilty for taking banned substances but he's not guilty for wanting to have been the best in the world at the time. A noble aspiration badly executed you could say. 

 

 

 

 

What tosh.    The effect of EPO isn't the same on everyone.  The effect is to make people who carry less oxygen carry more; people who already are at the max haeomoglobin levels get no benefit.

 

Add to that the way he bullied other people, and the way that nobody could succeed if clean, and the lies and more lies.   I find it amazing that anyone other than the dick Armstrong is still trying to defend the dick Armstrong.

 

 

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La Clotte [3 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Edgely and davel......

I'm not defending what Armstrong did or arguing the benefits of EPO. Cycling, like most elite sports, has always been a level(ish) playing field as much as that is possible to create. On the playing field during his era he was the best of the best. He had a "win at all costs" mentality which made him the best in the world at the time. Sure, it didn't make him a nice guy and history wont remember him fondly but it made him the most successful at that time. 

Bernard Hinault was every bit as aggressive/controlling/bullying as Armstrong. That was very much part of what made him such a prolific winner. 

Armstrong, like all extreme characters, polarises opinion massively. It's too easy to write him off as a "dick". Like him or loathe him he's a hell of an interesting character and part of cycling's history, for better and for worse. 

...and yes, I would go for a beer with him!

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beezus fufoon [673 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
La Clotte wrote:

...and yes, I would go for a beer with him!

just make sure you neither agree nor disagree with anything he says - just be non-comittal to everything

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SingleSpeed [311 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
beezus fufoon wrote:

well no - he's saying he was a dick for lying, but still no awareness of his god complex

 

To be fair, he did win what is arguably the hardest road race going 7 times, he certainly has more right to a god complex than your average Pro bike racer.

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beezus fufoon [673 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
SingleSpeed wrote:
beezus fufoon wrote:

well no - he's saying he was a dick for lying, but still no awareness of his god complex

 

To be fair, he did win what is arguably the hardest road race going 7 times, he certainly has more right to a god complex than your average Pro bike racer.

there's a difference between having the confidence of your own convictions and engaging in image management to gain approval

I don't recall Lance ever once saying, yeah it was all me, my choice, I did it my way and I'll take the consequences

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peted76 [606 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

Lance acted abhorrently, he deceived and bullied. He gained global superstar celebrity and after retiring just couldn't resist his ego to come back and have another go. 

He's been punished with a lifetime ban and his global superstar status revoked.

He did some equally good stuff too and by all accounts this is/was genuine, even if it fed his ego to do so.

The money thing with the big lawsuits is just capitalism, shareholder protection and lawyers getting their share of his carcass.

I buy into the hearsay and do believe the protagonists in the pro-peloton were all at it and therefore I buy into the fact that it was a level playing field (well as level as cheating can be), those on Doc Ferrari's books probably just had the best advice/dope.

Today, to me, he's a facinating character, I'd love to peel back the layers and get to know him, how, regretful or carefree is is today, what his daily worries are, where he seems himself in ten years. He's supposedly admired and respected in his local by a lot of people who know him. 

The great German cyclist Ulrich crumbled after he was caught out, it's taken years for him to get back on a bike. Pantani is hearalded as a hero by many is still being talked about today. 

I'd love to find out who was proven EPO via that Operacion Puerto samples (Valverde!) which look like will never see the light of day.

Any further public Lance apologies wouldn't be accepted by most cycling fans so why would he, just to get pulled apart and criticised? I wouldn't if I were him. But then again, I'm not Lance and who can know what drives a man like that.

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WolfieSmith [1380 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

The lack of a father. The desire to win at all costs. Surviving cancer as a focus. Endemic doping. He is a compulsive character.

His bullying is the part I find less forgivable and it makes it hard for him to achieve redemption. Personally I think he'd be a great commentator and as we have no shortage of ex dopers from different eras doing that job I'd like to hear him.

Unfortunately you imagine the Twitter feed from the righteous if he ever sat alongside Carlton Kirby. "Well... We have another 2,000 possibly impossible requests of what can I say...? A physical nature for you Lance and one tweet from a Mrs Trellis of North London asking what it felt like to be the first man on the moon.. Time for a break and another biscuit.."

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davel [1242 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
peted76 wrote:

Lance acted abhorrently, he deceived and bullied. He gained global superstar celebrity and after retiring just couldn't resist his ego to come back and have another go. 

He's been punished with a lifetime ban and his global superstar status revoked.

He did some equally good stuff too and by all accounts this is/was genuine, even if it fed his ego to do so.

The money thing with the big lawsuits is just capitalism, shareholder protection and lawyers getting their share of his carcass.

I buy into the hearsay and do believe the protagonists in the pro-peloton were all at it and therefore I buy into the fact that it was a level playing field (well as level as cheating can be), those on Doc Ferrari's books probably just had the best advice/dope.

Today, to me, he's a facinating character, I'd love to peel back the layers and get to know him, how, regretful or carefree is is today, what his daily worries are, where he seems himself in ten years. He's supposedly admired and respected in his local by a lot of people who know him. 

The great German cyclist Ulrich crumbled after he was caught out, it's taken years for him to get back on a bike. Pantani is hearalded as a hero by many is still being talked about today. 

I'd love to find out who was proven EPO via that Operacion Puerto samples (Valverde!) which look like will never see the light of day.

Any further public Lance apologies wouldn't be accepted by most cycling fans so why would he, just to get pulled apart and criticised? I wouldn't if I were him. But then again, I'm not Lance and who can know what drives a man like that.

I think another aspect is how much full repentance might influence legal proceedings. If he threw his hands up, admitted being the ringleader and the worst apple in a cart full of them, would that encourage more lawsuits?

I think some people have some weird moral equation that still hasn't been resolved with this, and won't be until there is an outpouring of remorse from him. I reckon Lance's equation is a bit more simple than that.

He's made a few comments about standing to lose everything: that might be fair, given how much of it was accrued off the back of endorsements via association with him, while his brand was still clean. But even if he believes that's what he deserves, he's got a family and the need to keep a roof (albeit an expensive one, at the moment) over their heads, while he remains virtually unemployable, must temper what he says in public.

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Jackson [327 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

Lots of fans in the UK at the moment seem to be struggling a bit with their positions. 

1. British Cycling bullying scandal/Sky TUE abuse:

"That's the harsh reality of pro sport. We have to push the rules to the limit and win at all costs, or someone else will. If the snowflakes can't handle it, tough."

2. Disgraced Cyclist Lance Armstrong™:

"Sure, he was doping like everyone else was, all his peers accept he beat them, and he raised 500 million USD for his cancer charity. But... by some accounts he was a bit of a bully, and therefore deserves some sort of Prometheus-esque eternal punishment. "

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beezus fufoon [673 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
Jackson wrote:

Lots of fans in the UK at the moment seem to be struggling a bit with their positions. 

can't stand behind them, don't want to stand in front of them either!

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kitsunegari [195 posts] 6 days ago
0 likes
La Clotte wrote:

On the pretence cycling had been clean for all those years and he had ridden cleanly he would have still have won all seven Tours. No one is justifying doping, especially not Armstrong now.

I'm not convinced he'd have been as successful coming back from Cancer without the drugs, personally.