In this third part of an exclusive interview with Cyclingnews, Lance Armstrong talks about how he rode a wave of power and deceit as he dominated the Tour de France to become one of the biggest sports stars in the world.
Armstrong confirmed that he tried to apologise to many of the people he attacked and hurt, including Betsy Andreu and Emma O’Reilly. He denies remembering the famous moment in hospital when, according to Andreu, he confessed to doctors that he doped in front of several friends.
Armstrong has been banned for life by USADA but claims he has not been treated fairly, with Travis Tygart perhaps leading a vendetta against him. He suggests he competed on a level playing field during his career because almost all of his rivals also doped but that he has been singled out by USADA. We ask directly ‘if it was a witch hunt, perhaps he was the witch.’
However, Armstrong adds that he hopes cycling can move on from the past via a Truth and Reconciliation process.
The final part of the interview will be published on Friday. Armstrong talks about Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, his hopes of doing charity work with Livestrong in the future, and his seven Tour de France yellow jerseys, which he vows to put back up on his wall once he completes moving house.
DB: I’d like to go back to the relationships you had in your career. What did it take for you to trust people and to let them into that inner circle?
I wish Bock called me and said, ‘You’re not going to get suspended and this is what we’re going to talk about.’ I wish. Maybe I still would have told him to screw off but what I’m telling you is that it wasn’t presented to me – no suspension, we want to talk about this, clean up the sport and effect change. We want a comprehensive effort to clean up cycling. I wish that would have happened but it didn’t. They said that to [Jonathan] Vaughters, [Tom] Danielson, [Ryder] Hesjedal, [David] Zabriskie, [George] Hincapie and Levi [Leipheimer]. First words were six months, and then ‘here’s what we want to talk about.’ Now all I’m saying is that if we’re all going to sit around and tell the truth then let’s tell the truth. They never said that. They didn’t offer me anything. ‘We expect him to come in here and talk.’
The last communication was us asking for a meeting, they refused and then came the charging letter. It was an interesting time, too. There was a real sense of urgency from them all of a sudden. They’d talked to guys in April and May, I think George in May, me in June. I was in France and all of a sudden there was this urgency: ‘We have to talk to him, we expect him to be in here.’ I had a week to go before Ironman France, which may mean nothing, but was a big deal to me. My point is that it was different for me. If we’re going to tell the truth then let’s just say. They told these guys they weren’t getting suspended, up front.
DB: You called it a witch hunt but would it be fair to say that it was a witch hunt but you were the witch?
DB: We’ll get to that but going back, do you agree with that statement, that it was a witch hunt but that you were the witch?
If we don’t, I think we’re facing a decade of this mess. Well see how the fans like that, or the sponsors, or the events or the media. They won’t like it. This is the perfect opportunity with Cookson and a new leadership for him to say: ‘I wasn’t there but I want to learn.’ Then we can draw a line in the sand and we’re going to move on.