Lance Armstrong took some of the blame for the doping accusations levelled recently against Tour de France winner Chris Froome, saying in an interview with Sky Sports News HQ that he can empathise with riders having to answer questions about doping during the middle of the Tour.
"I know what that is like for a guy like Chris to be in the middle of the Tour, to deal with the constant questions, which of course he is, and to be fair and to be honest, a lot of that is my fault,” Armstrong said in the interview, which took place ahead of his participation in a charity ride along the Tour route on Thursday and Friday.
"A lot of people ask those questions, they see his style, they see his performance, they see the time gaps, they see the cadence and they think, 'This guy is just another one of them,’” Armstrong said. "I feel bad about that. Whoever is winning the Tour de France in 2015 should not be answering questions about someone who won it 10 or 15 years ago. That's just not legitimate. That’s just not fair."
For his own part, Froome dismissed Armstrong’s participation at the charity ride, which benefits cancer research, as a “non-event,” saying Armstrong’s participation in the charity ride had nothing to do with the Tour de France. “He’s not on the start line of the Tour de France or anything like that," Froome said.
Armstrong had previously raised some internet hackles with a post on Twitter following Froome’s stage 10 ride, writing, “Clearly Froome/Porte/Sky are very strong. Too strong to be clean? Don't ask me, I have no clue."
Armstrong told Sky Sports News HQ that he did not intend to raise doubts about Froome’s performance, rather he was simply answering questions from followers.
"Anything I have to say about a bike race is going to be closely scrutinised and questioned,” he said. “I get those questions all the time and the question is, 'Can this be believed? Are these guys clean? Is everybody like you, Lance?'
"I was simply answering a question,” he said. “I put it out there as, 'Don't ask me that question because I don't know that answer.’ I tried to clarify it even later, saying, 'I don't have any credibility on that issue, I know that, and furthermore, I don't really care.’ That's not my role to opine about that.
"I had other comments and thoughts about the stage that I said, but by simply throwing it out there that I don't know, don't ask me, that somehow translated into, 'These guys are dirty,' which is the last thing I want to say because I don't know that. I have no regrets [about the tweets]. I was totally transparent and honest about it. I regret other tweets in my life but not those."
Armstrong is in France to team up with cancer survivor and British professional soccer player Geoff Thomas on Thursday and Friday to ride with other volunteers. The ride will be the closest Armstrong has come to the Tour de France since his seven Tour de France victories were eradicated from the record books after the detailed USADA doping investigation exposed years of doping.