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“I was asking for them to come after me”

Lance Armstrong says he “wouldn’t change a thing” about his cycling career, despite the infamy and law suits that followed being stripped of seven Tour de France titles for doping. If you’re a connoisseur of these sorts of confessional retrospectives, you’ll guess that it’s the old ‘I’ve learned a lot, it made me the man I am today’ reasoning.

“We did what we had to do to win,” said Armstrong. “It wasn’t legal, but I wouldn’t change a thing — whether it’s losing a bunch of money, going from hero to zero.”

In a 30-minute interview due to be aired on the US channel NBCSN next Wednesday, the former cyclist said of his doping: “I wouldn’t change that. It was a mistake. It led to a lot of other mistakes. It led to the most colossal meltdown in the history of sports. But I learned a lot.”

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Referring to the doping culture he feels was already prevalent when he first raced in Europe, he continued: “I knew there were going to be knives at this fight. Not just fists. I knew there would be knives.

“I had knives, and then one day, people start showing up with guns. That’s when you say, do I either fly back to Plano, Texas, and not know what you’re going to do? Or do you walk to the gun store? I walked to the gun store. I didn’t want to go home.

“I don’t want to make excuses for myself that everybody did it or we never could have won without it. Those are all true, but the buck stops with me. I’m the one who made the decision to do what I did. I didn’t want to go home, man. I was going to stay.”

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He does however regret the way he went after anyone who tried to expose him.

“I couldn’t turn it off. Huge mistake,” he said. “We’d all love to go back in life and have a few do-overs. I never should have taken it on, especially knowing that most of what they said was true.”

At the same time, he reiterated: “I wouldn’t change the lessons that I’ve learned. I don’t learn all the lessons if I don’t act that way. I don’t get investigated and sanctioned if I don’t act the way I acted. If I just doped and didn’t say a thing, none of that would have happened. None of it. I was begging for, I was asking for them to come after me. It was an easy target.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.