Lance Armstrong has denied ever using a hidden motor in his bike during his professional career, asking interviewer Ger Gilroy of the Irish Off the Ball radio show: "Are you out of your mind? I know its topical but are you crazy?"
Armstrong flatly denied ever using a motor, saying "Absolutely not." He said he knew that motors were a hot topic in the sport after a series of revelations in recent months but claimed that in 1999 nobody even knew it was possible to put a motor in a bicycle.
Armstrong was asked about hidden motors during a 30-minute interview that covered a wide range of the subjects, including his hopes to restore his relationship with Greg LeMond and Betsy Andreu and journalists Paul Kimmage and David Walsh. Armstrong has partially been allowed to return to competitive events after his ban for doping and is awaiting a final outcome in his legal battle with the US federal government and Floyd Landis.
Speaking from Austin, Armstrong seemed surprised by some of the hard-hitting questions that often forced him to go on the defensive. He confirmed that his seven Tour de France winner's yellow jerseys remain on his wall at home, suggesting "the Tour de France is clearly too great and too grand, not to have a winner."
Armstrong ended the interview by failing to say goodbye, simply hanging up on Gilroy. Armstrong agreed to be on the show because he will be in Dublin on October 21 for the One Zero Global Sports Conference.
He claimed he is willing to face any kind of question when he goes on stage.
"You get some people that are genuinely, really pissed off. Those aren't the easiest questions, but that's just part of it. This is not something that people are going to forget about or move on from. People want something, whether it's an apology or a direct answer or some contrition, whatever it is, and I welcome those opportunities. It's the spot I've got myself in," he said.
"I was stuck in a path of not being truthful and brazenness of the denials and defences. It's embarrassing. I don't like that. The good thing is that I get to come to Dublin and sit her for 90 minutes. If I'd done it five years ago, I'd have bullshitted you for the entire time. Now I get to sit there and say it the way it is."
"If you think I roll around and worry about what people think, you’re wrong. I'm going to live my life, head high and heart full, being as honest and trans parent as I can going forward. That's the walk I have to walk."
A lack of atonement
When pushed about if he atoned with the sport of cycling for his doping, lying and bullying, Armstrong insisted he has spoken multiple times to anti-doping authorities and travelled the world to apologise to many of the people he hurt. However, Gilroy insisted that Betsy Andreu had never accepted an apology.
"I've apologised multiple times [to Betsy Andreu]. Here's the thing Ger, you're a big boy, I'm a big boy, she's a big girl. What I've learned is you can't force someone to accept an apology. Whether it's the Andreus, whether it's the LeMonds, whether it's Emma O'Reilly. I've traveled the world to make it right with these people," Armstrong said.
"Not only did I say [sorry] but I meant it. I don't know what else I need to do."
He denied claims that he pushed Greg and Kathy LeMond to sign a press release and refuted that he should make some form of financial restitution to them for damaging their bike business after Trek ended their relationship following the LeMond's suspicions about Armstrong.
"I had nothing to do with Trek’s decision to do that. Absolutely not," Armstrong said.
"Here's the thing Ger, I sat in that room, not only with Greg and Kathy, but with his lawyer and with my lawyer, and there were plenty of other people in that room, and I apologised to them. Never at any time did Greg and/or Kathy say 'hey, we feel like you owe us financially.' I don't need to get into the details of the conversation, the most important part is that I was sorry for my actions, I was embarrassed by my actions, and they accepted the apology."
Gilroy hit back by saying he believed that the LeMonds did not accept the apology.
When quizzed about the now famous moment in his hospital room in 1996, when both Betsy and Frankie Andreu believe and subsequently testified that Armstrong admitted to using a strong of doping products to his doctor, Armstrong insisted he does not remember the incident.
"I don't have a recollection of that conversation. This is perhaps where Betsy and I can never reconcile," Armstrong said.
"She has a strong memory of it and I do not have a strong memory of it. I think it's highly improbable that at that moment in a patient's treatment process, that a doctor would come in and have an open conversation about that in front of a bunch of strangers."
"I'm sorry for the way I treated the Andreus, I have said that. I would love, at some point, for them to accept my apology, but some people just aren't in that place and may never be."
Speaking to Kimmage but not to Walsh
In recent weeks it has been suggested that Irish journalist Paul Kimmage should host the interview with Armstrong. The Texan revealed that the two have exchanged private messages recently but played down the chance of an interview happening. The two famously clashed during the 2009 pre-race Tour of California press conference.
"Paul's an interesting case. I had one interaction with Paul at the press conference in California. I didn't handle it right. I'd love to, whether it's in an interview or over a beer or whatever, I'd sit with Paul any time and say, 'Hey, my bad, I'm sorry. I was a complete dickhead,'" Armstrong said.
"He wants to do an interview… I think there's a time and a place for he and I to sit down, but truth be told, I don't know Paul Kimmage. I don't have anything against Paul Kimmage. There was that one interaction which I'll fully cop to, I'll fully confess to that I was out of line, but sh*t, other than that, I'm happy to sit down with him at some point."
It seems a legal settlement will stop any kind of interview with David Walsh.
"You talk of making amends but you either make personal amends or financial emends. David's situation has been settled and is a confidential matter. He can't comment on that and I can't comment on that."
He also dismissed a suggestion that Walsh could appear on his new podcast series.
"That would be an interesting podcast, but I don't know if that's going to happen any time soon…," Armstrong said.