WASHINGTON, April 24, 2014 (AFP) – Lance Armstrong, in a rare interview,
says he still considers himself a Tour de France champion despite his
spectacular fall from grace for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Armstrong — stripped of his record seven Tour titles — told Outside
magazine he thinks his fellow competitors would agree he genuinely won
cycling’s greatest event.
“Yes, I feel that I won the races,” he said in what Outside billed as his
first public appearance since his January 2013 doping confession to talk show
diva Oprah Winfrey following years of denials.
“I know that is not a popular answer, but the reality is that … it was
just a messy time,” he said, referring to widespread doping in cycling. “It
was basically an arms race, and we all played ball that way.”
He added it would be “a mistake, and it would be disrespectful to the
sport, to leave seven years empty” and fail to recognize a Tour winner between
1999 and 2005.
“If I didn’t win, then somebody needs to win,” he said.
“Of course I’m going to say I won — but ask the guys (fellow Tour de
France competitors) that went and suffered with you and ask them, ‘Did he
win?’ I think I know what they’d say.”
No longer racing, or associated with the Livestrong cancer charity he
founded, Armstrong said he still bikes “occasionally” but runs “more than
anything” in order to keep fit.
As for what his legacy will be, he said: “I don’t know. I don’t spend a lot
of time thinking about that … Honestly, I have no idea what the future
Outside posted the interview — conducted earlier this month — late
Wednesday on its www.outsideonline.com website, alongside a how-to video in
which Armstrong shows the correct way to change a bike’s tire tube.