28 Jan 2015

Armstrong says he would probably do it again

12:21 pm on 28 January 2015

Shamed American cyclist Lance Armstrong believes the time is coming when he should be forgiven for doping and lying - and says he would probably do it again.

American cyclist Lance Armstrong in 2010

American cyclist Lance Armstrong in 2010 Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Armstrong was stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles and banned from sport for life by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in August 2012.

Armstrong told the BBC that if he was racing in 2015 he would not do it again because "I don't think you have to".

But if you took him back to 1995, when doping was completely pervasive, he says he would probably do it again.

Armstrong was speaking in his first television interview since confessing to Oprah Winfrey two years ago that he had used performance-enhancing drugs during his career.

He aggressively denied the claims until Usada's 200-page "reasoned decision" - complete with 1000 additional pages of evidence - was released in October 2012.

But Armstrong finally confessed in a two-part interview with US talk-show host Winfrey in January 2013.

He was forced to step away from the cancer charity he had founded and has since kept his counsel, save for a handful of print interviews.

Speaking in his hometown of Austin, Texas, Armstrong said "the fallout" from his confession had been "heavy, tough, trying and required patience".

The father-of-five says his life has "thinned out" and "slowed from 100mph to 10", but added he would like to return to "50, 55".

As for whether the world was ready to accept his return to public life, Armstrong said: "Selfishly, I would say 'yeah, we're getting close to that time''.

"But that's me, my word doesn't matter any more. What matters is what people collectively think, whether that's the cycling community, the cancer community.

"Listen, of course I want to be out of timeout, what kid doesn't?"

Armstrong was asked if he would make the same choice to cheat that he made in 1995.

He said: "When I made the decision, when my team made that decision, when the whole peloton made that decision, it was a bad decision and an imperfect time.

"But it happened. And I know what happened because of that. I know what happened to the sport, I saw its growth."

Armstrong said sales at his bicycle supplier Trek Bicycles went from $US100 million to $1 billion and his charity foundation went from "raising no money to raising $500 million, serving three million people".

He added: "Do we want to take it away? I don't think anybody says 'yes'."

Armstrong did admit to "unacceptable and inexcusable" behaviour towards other people during his career.

Former rider Filippo Simeoni angered Armstrong by testifying against his coach/doctor Michele Ferrari in a 2002 Italian doping case.

The American called him a liar and denied the Italian a stage win in the 2004 Tour.

Armstrong also responded with legal threats and personal smears when Emma O'Reilly, a masseuse at his US Postal team, provided some of the earliest details on his doping.

"I would want to change the man that did those things, maybe not the decision, but the way he acted," he continued.

"The way he treated people, the way he couldn't stop fighting. It was unacceptable, inexcusable."

Armstrong added he had been "an arsehole to a dozen people" and had spent the past two years trying to make amends, with varying results.

The 43-year-old was equally forthright on what should happen to his Tour titles, which have not been reallocated, such was the extent of cycling's doping problem at the time.

"I think there has to be a winner, I'm just saying that as a fan," he said.

"There's a huge block in World War One with no winners, and there's another block in World War Two, and then it seems like there's another world war."

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