Lance Armstrong has revealed that he has virtually abandoned cycling, opting to play golf to ‘clear his mind’ as he fights to save his name and fight a series of legal battles after he was banned for life by USADA.
The Texan was in Rome on Thursday and spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport’s Pier Bergonzi during a round of golf. Cyclingnews understands Armstrong’s European tour will also include a visit to Paris on Friday.
In the interview, Armstrong hinted he will not try to reach a deal with the US Justice Department and Floyd Landis in their civil legal battle, with the case possibly going to trial in 2016.
Just as during his long interview with Cyclingnews, Armstrong also continued to lament that his life ban was unfair compared to other riders' bans and continued to complain that other dopers have not been punished as much as he has.
“I know I’m guilty. 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,” Armstrong told Bergonzi, who followed much of Armstrong’s early career.
“They could have given me a ban that was five, six or even ten times bigger, but not a thousand times. 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 said he’s is still in contact with George Hincapie and Johan Bruyneel but revealed that others have ended any kind of contact.
“I’ve been dumped by the likes of Nike and Trek. 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,” he said.
“I’ve virtually given up riding”
Armstrong revealed he had no desire to compete in cycling again, at any level.
“I’ve got a feeling of rejection for cycling at the moment. 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,” he said.
“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.”
USADA has claimed there is a one in million chance that Armstrong blood values were natural in 2009 and 2010 at the Tour de France but he again insisted he did not dope during the comeback that ultimately led to his downfall.
“I’ve already told too many lies and I can’t allow myself to tell more. 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,” he said.