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Bassons won’t judge Landis and Armstrong

Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis on the US Postal team

Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis on the US Postal team
(Image credit: AFP Photo)

Former French rider and proponent of cycling “à l'eau claire”, Christophe Bassons, told Cyclingnews on Wednesday that he “hopes Lance Armstrong can live with the consequences” of the ongoing federal investigation into the seven-time Tour winner and his erstwhile US Postal team.

Bassons, who clashed with Armstrong during the 1999 Tour over the Frenchman’s outspoken views on doping, was reacting to comments by Floyd Landis in an interview with the Sunday Times’s Paul Kimmage published earlier this week. In the article, Kimmage cited Bassons as someone who rejected the drug-taking that Landis saw as a necessary evil to fulfil his ambitions in the Tour de France.

Landis wasn’t familiar with Bassons’s story, but seemed impressed by what Kimmage told him.

“I’m impressed. I don’t know how many guys would [have the strength of character not to dope] but there’s not a lot… I don’t know [Bassons]. I would like to know him though.”

“To me, courage is all about overcoming fear, and I was never scared. I was just lucky - I’d had a balanced upbringing, lots of love in my life, and no void which made me want to dope. Refusing to take drugs was easy for me, whereas other people have things missing in their lives which mean that’s not the case. Doping is always a response to a void, a need – whether it’s for money, or success, or love, or something else. That’s why it’s a mistake to fight the war on doping in terms of health – because, if you actually analyse it, doping responds to a need there too, because you can be healthier doing the Tour de France on drugs than without anything.”

“Everyone has their own sense of legitimate and illegitimate, which is different from what is licit and illicit. For example, I might think it’s legitimate to drive my car at 90kph in an 80kph zone, if me being late means that my son will walk out into the school playground and not see his dad. For Richard Virenque, doping was legitimate because, for some reason, he needed the love and admiration of the public. For some riders from Eastern Europe it’s legitimate because they need money for their families – which is hard to condemn. Or a teenager might take steroids and go to the gym to pump iron because he’s uncomfortable with his body. In that case, doping serves his need – it perpetuates it too, but as far as the kid is concerned it solves his particular problem…”

“I don’t care what anyone does, as long as they don’t try to stop me from living my life, or doing my job, which is what bothered me about Armstrong. But, again, I won’t judge. With him, I think it’s obvious there was a need for success. He didn’t have a relationship with his father, and his upbringing wasn’t easy, then I think what was already a hard character probably became more and more entrenched in those ways as he got a bit of success with triathlon and then in cycling, plus money and adulation….”