Disgraced American sports icon Lance Armstrong said that he would probably cheat again.
The BBC’s Dan Roan spoke with Armstrong in an interview published on Monday, at one point asking the Texan, “When it comes to the doping, would you do it again?”
“If I was racing in 2015? No, I wouldn’t do it again, because I don’t think you have to do it again,” Armstrong said. “If you take me back to 1995, when it was completely and totally pervasive, I’d probably do it again.”
He added: “People don’t like to hear that.”
“That’s the honest answer?” Roan said.
“Yeah, that’s the honest answer,” Armstrong said. “But it’s an answer that needs some explanation … it was a bad decision at an imperfect time, but it happened.”
The interview is an excerpt from a half-hour special that will air on BBC on Thursday.
In the interview, Armstrong talks about how the sport of cycling saw a huge rise in popularity while he was winning all those Tours.
For example, he says, he knows “what happened with [his sponsor] Trek bicycles … $US100 million in sales to $US1 billion. I know what happened to my [cancer] foundation, from raising no money to raising $US500 million [and] serving 3 million people.
“Do all those people want to … do we want to take it away? I don’t think anybody says yes.”
At another point, Armstrong says: “I would want to change the man that did those things. Maybe not the decision but the way he acted, the way he treated other people, the way he couldn’t stop fighting.”
Regarding the past two years, he talks about how he’s hoping to finally get out of “time-out.” “What kid doesn’t want to be out of time-out?”
Here are some other highlights from the BBC interview with Armstrong:
- Regarding his ongoing punishment, such as being banned from running marathons, he says: “Nothing benefits me from going and running a slow marathon.”
- Referring to other cyclists who doped, he says: “Where are all the other players in the story? I get it. I need to be punished. But don’t we have to look at the whole play?”
- He says accusations of his being a doping ringleader and a bully “are not totally true.”
- While others who doped appeared to get off easy through deals with USADA, Armstrong says he never got the same “call” or deal that others got.
- He said he regrets coming out of retirement in 2009, because it was “a bridge to the past.” “It was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.”
- In one of the most critical parts of the interview, the Roan says to Armstrong, “Some critics will say you’re sorry for getting caught but not doing it in the first place. They would argue that’s the lack of contrition. They want you to be sorry for doing it in the first place … do you understand that?” Armstrong replies: “I get that. Listen, I think all of us … I think we’re all sorry. We’re all sorry that we were put in that place,” referring to the period of rampant doping in cycling when he was winning those seven Tours de France.
Before he got caught for doping, Armstrong was considered by many to be the greatest cyclist in the history of the sport, which historically has been dominated by Europeans. He won seven Tours de France, a record, and won many other races along the way.
The three-week Tour de France is the world’s largest annual sporting event. It is considered the greatest and most physically demanding bicycle race, and the winner is regarded to be the best cyclist on the planet.
Before Armstrong, no cyclist had ever won more than five Tours. That Armstrong, who had survived cancer, won seven Tours in a row captured the attention of the entire world. The sport made him a multimillionaire and brought him fame.
In October 2012, the United States Anti-Doping Agency, or USADA, stripped Armstrong of his all his Tour titles, saying that evidence against him showed “beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
Since then, Armstrong told the BBC, “the fallout has been heavy — maybe heavier than I would have thought.” He said the aftermath has been “pretty brutal.”
Armstrong’s net worth, according to The New York Times, was estimated at $US125 million in 2012.
In August he said he still believed he won those seven Tours de France.
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