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Liggett: I helped build Lance Armstrong into a great cyclist

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Phil Liggett

Phil Liggett (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Lance Armstrong rode with Astana when he made his TDU debut

Lance Armstrong rode with Astana when he made his TDU debut (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Lance Armstrong wins the 1993 world championships

Lance Armstrong wins the 1993 world championships (Image credit: Getty Images)
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There was always lots of media attention for Lance Armstrong when he rode the TDU

There was always lots of media attention for Lance Armstrong when he rode the TDU (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Phil Liggett will be spending some time on a mountain bike at the Fairbairn Capital/Old Mutual joBerg2c off-road race.

Phil Liggett will be spending some time on a mountain bike at the Fairbairn Capital/Old Mutual joBerg2c off-road race. (Image credit: Fairbairn Capital/Old Mutual joBerg2c)

Cycling commentator Phil Liggett has once more opened up about his relationship with former professional and banned-for-life cyclist, Lance Armstrong.

Roughly once a year, Liggett is asked, usually during the Tour Down Under, about his history with Armstrong, who he defended throughout years of drug allegations during the Texan’s career.

Armstrong was eventually banned by USADA in 2012, losing all seven of his Tour de France titles and confessing to years of drug use in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Speaking directly to the New Zealand Herald, Liggett said: "I built him up. I created him into a great cyclist, and he was, even though he took drugs.

"On the other hand, I feel hurt and cheated that we made him look better than he should've and turned him into a star."

Liggett, who once claimed that a Federal investigation into Armstrong was a waste of time and that WADA’s and USADA’s later pursuit of the former rider would waste money, told the New Zealand Herald that most of the top riders who raced against Armstrong were also doping.

“To be fair, it wasn't just Lance. Pretty much all the top names were doing it, some of whom were never caught.

"I can't totally decry Lance. He raised US$600 million [$925 million] to fight cancer. I'd emcee his gigs around the world.

"People say I was in his pocket and strong friends but that's totally untrue. I was hoping against hope it wasn't drugs."

Liggett remains a leading commentator within cycling, and at 72, has become one of the most recognised voices in the sport. He reasoned that his defence of Armstrong for so long was down to the fact that all the allegations lacked proof.

"I wanted absolute proof before I spoke against him and, despite what they say, they never got the proof. But they got the confession. That's what counted.

"The guy was still an incredible talent and a brave man. He was virtually dead with cancer but became a life support for millions of sufferers. He spent incredible hours helping those people and raising money.

"It's hard to simply say, 'I hate Lance Armstrong.' And I never would."