Wait, didn’t Lance Armstrong apologize? What’s all this, then?
The now-disgraced former seven-time Tour de France winner spoke with Le Monde on Friday, the day before the beginning of the 100th Tour de France, and he seemed every bit like the defiant Armstrong that sports fans had come to know before this year, when he tearfully admitted to doping and tried to keep a hold of some of his accomplishments.
Armstrong fell back on the defense he used in several interviews this year, claiming that most cyclists use performance-enhancing drugs, and he was simply the best of the bunch.
“It is impossible to win the Tour de France without doping,” he told Le Monde. “Because the tour is an event where oxygen is too important.”
He also brought up what has become a prickly point in cycling — if he isn’t the winner of the Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005, then who is? Cycling has struggled with that question in many events, as not only the winners but also many of their challengers were found to be doping.
“It’s fine to erase my name from the winners’ lists,” Armstrong said, “but the tour did take place from 1999 to 2005, so there has to be a winner. Who is it then? I will let other people debate over who was the true winner of those tours. But so far, no one has stood up and claimed my yellow jerseys.”
Armstrong also slammed the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s testing methods, saying the approach “worked perfectly to destroy one man’s life, but it has not benefited cycling.”
“I did not invent doping — sorry, [USADA president] Travis [Tygart],” he said. “Nor did I end it. I merely participated in it. I am a human being.”
While Armstrong kept up his fight against the accusations and what he says is his being singled out by the cycling community, he also continued to express regrets, much like he did when he admitted to doping.
“Fighting on the bike is perfect. Fighting off it is not,” he said of his long campaign to take down those who accused him of performance-enhancing drug use. “I couldn’t and didn’t separate the two.”
He also said he will “spend my life trying” to repair the damage he has done.