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Lance Armstrong on doping past: 'I wouldn't change a thing'

Joe Robinson
24 May 2019

Disgraced former Tour champion admits he has learned a lot from doping past

Former seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong has admitted he 'wouldn't change a thing' about the systematic use of doping throughout his career.

Armstrong made the statement in a 30-minute interview given to American broadcaster NCCSN which is set to air next Wednesday called 'Lance Armstrong: Next Stage'.

While the 47-year-old admitted he had learned from his mistakes, he said he would not change his decision to dope and that those actions were vital in teaching him lessons later in life.

'I don't learn all the lessons if I don't act that way,' Armstrong said. 'We did what we had to do to win. It wasn't legal, but I wouldn't change a thing - whether it's losing a bunch of money, or going from hero to zero.

'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 it, I was asking for them to come after me. It was an easy target.'

Armstrong was stripped of his seven yellow jerseys in 2012 and banned from cycling for life by the UCI following an investigation into his time at the US Postal team. While the American initially denied the charges, he later confessed to doping throughout his career in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January 2013.

The subsequent ban also saw him taken to court by former teammate Floyd Landis and the US government who accused Armstrong of fraud for cheating while riding for the publicly-funded US Postal team.

Last year, Armstrong settled the case out of court, agreeing to pay $5 million in damages, much lower than the potential fee of $100 million that was rumoured.

Armstrong admitted that he had learned a lot from the scandal. 'It was a mistake, it led to a lot of other mistakes,' he said. 'It led to the most colossal meltdown in the history of sport. But I learned a lot, I wouldn't change the way I acted. I mean I would, but this is a longer answer.' 

The disgraced rider also addressed the widespread issue of doping in cycling during the 1990s and early 2000s and that doping was a necessity at the time for any success.

'I knew there were going to be knives at this fight. Not just fists. I knew there would be knives,' said Armstrong.

'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.'

Armstrong has made a slow return to the pro cycling bubble in the past few years mainly through his podcast 'The Move'. Last year, he was invited to the Giro d'Italia by organisers although was eventually banned from attending officially by the UCI.