Lance Armstrong – the American former pro who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after doping – has said that it was a mistake to dope during his career, but that he "wouldn't change a thing". In a candid interview with the US network NBCSN, the American said that the decision to dope was entirely his own.
"I wouldn't change a thing," Armstrong told interviewer Mike Tirico in a video extract from the 30-minute interview on nbcsports.com, "because I'm sitting here today. So I wouldn't change that. It was a mistake. It led to a lot of other mistakes. It led to the most colossal meltdown in the history of sports... But I learned a lot."
Armstrong was handed a life ban from cycling and had all seven of his Tour de France titles removed from his palmares in 2012 following an investigation by the US Anti-Doping Authority. He later admitted to doping throughout his career in January 2013 in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. In further comments from Armstrong from the interview with NBCSN, the 47-year-old compares his experience of competing as a professional rider in Europe to a knife fight that his competition brought guns to.
"I knew there were going to be knives at this fight," says Armstrong. "Not just fists. I knew there would be knives. I had knives, and then one day, people start showing up with guns. That's when you say, do I either fly back to Plano, Texas, and not know what you're going to do? Or do you walk to the gun store? I walked to the gun store. I didn't want to go home.
"I don't want to make excuses for myself that everybody did it [doped] or we never could have won without it," he continues. "Those are all true, but the buck stops with me. I'm the one who made the decision to do what I did. I didn't want to go home, man. I was going to stay."
Where he does show contrition, however, is when asked by Tirico if he regrets his behaviour towards those who attempted to blow the whistle on his doping.
"I couldn't turn it off. Huge mistake," Armstrong says. "We'd all love to go back in life and have a few do-overs. I never should have taken it on, especially knowing that most of what they said was true."
'Lance Armstrong: Next Stage' will be aired at 23:30ET in the US on Wednesday.