He looked at me and he said ‘man I’ve seen death in the face and I don’t take drugs'
Phil Liggett welcomed the decision of the US Attorney’s office in Los Angeles to close the investigation into Lance Armstrong and the US Postal team. A two-year long enquiry concluded last Friday with no criminal charges. Armstrong released a statement welcoming the news, and on Sunday evening his friend and supporter, Liggett, reiterated the sentiment.
“I always felt that would be the decision. People asked me what would happen, and I said absolutely nothing and that’s how I’ve always felt. I thought that there was a lot of money being spent and there was no evidence turning up, just a lot of accusations which were all circumstantial and quite frankly I felt the whole investigation was a waste of money so I wasn’t surprised with what we’ve heard,” Liggett told Cyclingnews.
Asked if the news was a positive step for cycling Liggett said, “It can only be a good thing as one would hope it would drop out of the headlines now. Nobody has proved anything against him. I’ve been relatively close to him and he’s always categorically told me to my face that he hasn’t taken drugs. I read all the stories, I read all the accusations and I read the links and potential possibilities, but at the end of the day there’s no evidence or proof so we’ve got to move on and we can't live in the past.”
Liggett also questioned why WADA and USADA would want to take up the reins over any possible investigation into alleged doping on the US Postal team between 1999 and 2004.
“If WADA are going to continue to press then one must ask the question why because all they’re going to do is waste a lot of money and the guy has finished cycling, if they find him guilty what’s the point?”
Liggett has always been a strong supporter of Armstrong, and has commentated on all seven of the American’s Tour de France wins. However, while Ligggett admits that he has had his doubts over the American’s career, a one-on-one moment in private convinced him to believe Armstrong was clean.
“He told me in a private situation, when I wasn’t working as a journalist. I was sat in the bedroom some years ago, and I asked him point blank, ‘look Lance, the way I talked you up on television, I would have to back off and resign if you one day went positive’. And he looked at me and he said ‘man I’ve seen death in the face and I don’t take drugs.’ And that’s all he said. I have no reason to disbelieve him.”
“But I’ve been with him on his private jet when he’s been reading stuff on Cyclingnews and he’s gone, ‘god damn it look at what they’re saying about me again’ and he just passes his computer over to his friends.”