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47-year-old claims he would not have been sanctioned but for his aggressive defence against doping allegations

Lance Armstrong, who in 2012 was banned from sport for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, insists that it was his own attitude that led to his downfall.

The 47-year-old claimed it was the way he aggressively defended himself against allegations of cheating, including resorting to litigation, that led to investigators’ determination to bring him to justice, reports BBC Sport.

The Texan, who earlier this year settled the long-running ‘whistleblower’ case originally initiated by his former US Postal Service team mate Floyd Landis, revealed that he has paid out a total of $111 million in compensation and legal fees, and that an early investment in Uber that netted him between $10 million and $50 million salvaged his finances.

His lifetime ban and disqualification from results obtained since he returned to the sport in 1998 after his recovery from cancer was handed down by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in 2012.

The agency said that his US Postal Service team had operated “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen.”

Armstrong initially retired after winning his seventh Tour de France title in 2005, but returned to the sport in 2009, finishing third in the race, before finally ending his career early in 2011, with his final race being the Tour Down Under.

Speaking about how rife doping was in the peloton during the years he dominated the Tour de France, Armstrong said: "Most people have enough history and knowledge to know everybody did it.

"That isn't the issue for people – the issue is how aggressively I defended myself, being litigious, going after people.

"Whether or not I would do it all over again – what I would rather do is go back and win seven in a row against everybody else that's drinking water and eating bread," he continued.

"Even if I did all that [doping] but I was a gentleman and I had class and dignity and treated people with respect, they would've let me off.

“Nobody would've come after me. I insist that it was the way I acted that was my undoing," he added.

In reality, there is every possibility that had Armstrong not decided to come out of retirement in 2009 that he would never have been sanctioned.

Accompanied by a media circus throughout the 2009 season which he raced with Astana, he joined the new Radioshack team for the following year.

It was after Landis – himself stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping and banned for two years – requested a place on the team for the 2010 Tour of California and was refused that he went public with allegations of doping against Armstrong and others that would provide the starting point for a federal probe into the US Postal Service team that would subsequently be shelved but provided much of the evidence that underpinned USADA’s own investigation.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.