Lance Armstrong has again lamented the hypocrisy he sees in cycling, saying that he has been chosen as a symbol and that he punishment is too harsh. He regrets the loss of several friends from the cycling world and claims to have almost stopped riding his bike.
Almost a year ago Lance Armstrong admitted that he had doped during all of his seven Tour de France wins after having been stripped of all his titles and received a lifetime ban from all sport competitions. Since then the American has done nothing to hide that he feels that his treatment has been unfair and that he has been punished far harsher than others who have committed similar offences.
Armstrong is currently in Rome and spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport’s Pier Bergonzi during a round of golf. During their conversation, he repeated those statements and lamented the hypocrisy in cycling.
“I know I’m guilty," he said. "I know I hurt people. I’ve apologised publicly and want to do it personally to some of them. But my punishment is a thousand bigger than the ‘crime’ I committed. I can understand that they’ve chosen me as the symbol of those years, even if the top riders from then plus the managers and the doctors from back then were all in the same boat.
“They could have given me a ban that was five, six or even ten times bigger, but not a thousand times," he added. "The truth is that in the world of sport, and especially in cycling, there’s a lot of hypocrisy. I’m the absolute evil, others are still considered legends…”
Armstrong has lost plenty of money after getting dropped by some of his main sponsors. At the same time, he is part of several lawsuits, with the most notable one being the one initiated by Floyd Landis and later joined by the US Justice Department. The case could potentially cost him millions of dollars but Armstrong told Pergonzi that he won't try to reach a deal and so the case will probably go to trial in 2016.
Armstrong has not only lost money, he has also lost several friends. He reveals that he is still in contact with Johan Bruyneel and George Hincapie but has no relation to some of his former friends.
“I’ve been dumped by the likes of Nike and Trek," he said. "I’ve not heard from (former Motorola and now BMC team manager) Jim Ochowicz or Eddy Merckx. I can understand that interests are at stake but I hope to rebuild certain relationships."
While Armstrong has admitted to doping during the first part of his career, he has always claimed to be clean when he returned to competition in 2009. He reiterated that stance.
“I’ve already told too many lies and I can’t allow myself to tell more," he said. "But I repeat, in 2009 I stayed well away from doping. I think the urine and blood samples from that year are still available. If someone goes and controls them, they wouldn’t find traces of doping in mine."
One of the reasons for Armstrong's desire to have his ban shortened, is his wish to compete in triathlon. During the interview, however, he revealed that he has almost stopped riding his bike.
“I’ve got a feeling of rejection for cycling at the moment," he said. "I run to keep fit and I’m playing a lot of golf. Then there’s my work for the fight against cancer. Cancer victims are my community of reference.
“Golf is helping me a lot. I take my golf clubs everywhere I go. I run to keep fit but to clear my head of bad thoughts, there’s nothing better than golf.
“The bike? No more cycling. I’ve virtually given up riding in the last year. I only ride with friends.”
Cyclingnews reports that Armstrong will visit Paris later in the week.
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