Lance Armstrong: "I’ve paid a high price" for doping
Disgraced former racers believes he has not been treated fairly
Lance Armstrong believes he has not been treated fairly in the aftermath of being found by the United States Anti-Doping Agency to have masterminded “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme sport has ever seen”.
Armstrong told the BBC World Service’s Tim Franks that he had suffered “massive personal loss” while others who had confessed to doping “have truly capitalised on this story”.
But the 42-year-old American, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France victories in 2012, said that if he is treated fairly, he will testify with "100% transparency and honesty" at any future inquiry into doping.
“If everyone gets the death penalty, then I’ll take the death penalty,” he said.
“If everyone gets a free pass, I’m happy to take a free pass. If everyone gets six months, then I’ll take my six months.”
Armstrong was not simply found to have consistently used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career, but to have coordinated the doping programmes at his US Postal and Discovery Channel teams. The USADA found that he had “ultimate control over not only his own personal drug use, but over the doping culture of his team.”
According to the USADA’s Reasoned Decision, Armstrong had final responsibility for hiring doctors and other staff to coordinate the doping programme at his team and his goal of repeatedly winning the Tour de France led him “to expect and to require that his teammates would likewise use drugs to support his goals if not their own.”
The consequences for Armstrong have been, unsurprisingly, severe. The emergence of the full details of his doping activity has opened the door to lawsuits from the former team-mate Floyd Landis and US Justice department, insurance companies that covered his win bonuses and the Sunday Times.
“It’s been tough,” he said. “It’s been real tough. I’ve paid a high price in terms of my standing within the sport, my reputation, certainly financially because the lawsuits have continued to pile up.
“I have experienced massive personal loss, massive loss of wealth while others have truly capitalised on this story.”
Armstrong said that the sport of professional cycling had also been adversely affected by revelations that the sport was driven by doping in the 1990s and 2000s.
“Do I think that this process has been good for cycling?” he asked. “No. I don’t think our sport has been served well by going back 15 years.
“I don’t think that any sport, or any political scenario, is well served going back 15 years.
“And if you go back 15 years, you might as well go back 30.”
Armstrong retired from cycling in 2005, but made a comeback in 2009. He rode two Tours de France before retiring for good in 2011.
While evidence from his 2009 comeback was not central to the USADA case against Armstrong, the agency documents substantial evidence of a continuing relationship with doping doctor Michele Ferrari in 2009, and delaying submitting himself to testing.
The full interview with Lance Armstrong will be broadcast on the BBC World Service Newshour at 13:00 and 14:00 GMT.