Lance Armstrong is still making headlines. And he still sells newspapers. In an exclusive interview with respected French broadsheet Le Monde and staff journalist Stephane Mandard, it looks like the Texan was stitched up in an otherwise reasonable interview.

At one point Armstrong was asked what he hoped would happen in any kind of Truth and Reconciliation process:

Mandard: Why are you ready to talk in front of a commission like this?

LA: The whole story hasn’t been told. The USADA reasoned decision didn’t give a full picture of what was going on in cycling from the end of the 1980s to the present day. It succeeded in ruining one man’s life, but it didn’t do any good in terms of benefitting cycling. What would I say to a commission like that? I’d sit down, I’d listen and I’d give honest answers to questions.

Mandard: And one of the questions might be: when you were racing, was it possible to perform with doping?

LA: That depends on the races that you wanted to win. Win the Tour de France? No. It would be impossible to win without doping. The Tour is an endurance-based event where oxygen is a limiting factor. So, to take one example from athletics, EPO isn’t going to help a sprinter win a 100m race, but it would be a determining factor in a 10,000m race. It’s clear.”

The key point here was that Mandard asked Armstrong “when you were racing” which – somehow – the sports editor turned into a headline that read, in quote marks: “Le Tour de France? Impossible de gagner sans dopage.”* Which, for anyone with any grasp of basic French will know, is not what Armstrong actually said.

So Le Monde got its shock-horror headline, caused a Twitter storm and Armstrong looks like he’s pouring a bucket of sick on this Tour de France, confirming his status as pariah and casting doubt on the current crop of riders.

It’s hard to see why cycling journalist Mandard and Le Monde would have manipulated an interview quote for any reason other sell some papers. Misquoting the bad guy to make him look worse than he already is? That’s a bit low.

* “The Tour de France? Impossible to win without doping”

Twitter: @KenBobPryde

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Armstrong: “Impossible to win Tour without doping’ during his era

  • Patrick

    Liar, bully, and fraud. I saw him as an example of the greatness of the U.S. and of the human spirit in general. Now, I think he is the tragic example of the greed and immoral views of success and victory….he stands as the haunting reminder that the human spirit is dominated (in the majority) by ego, selfishness, and malice towards integrity. There is NO excuse for his actions…..NONE!

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  • Saladane

    Stop giving him column inches especially before the tour. He had his chance of reconciliation and turned it down twice he’s doing nothing to help the sport.

  • Bingers

    This is all too awful. Thank goodness for Classic Helms.

  • Bob C

    Yes he cheated. So did a lot of others. People will still cheat in the future. Maybe it was a level playing field of sorts. As far as I can tell he is still the only person to nearly die from cancer and win the TdF

  • Mark H

    KennyP: And who says that a ‘truth and reconciliation’ process is the answer – and even if it is and there is a process (which hasn’t even been defined) are you really so naive that you think that there is even a remote possibility that Lance Armstrong will contribute constructively to it, without just seeing it as another outlet for his sociopathic need to blame everyone but himself for the choices he made? Sorry, but pigs will fly before that happens .. just in the last 24 hours, he has yet again, without a single shred of evidence, accused Greg Lemond of doping. Your precious ‘truth and reconciliation’ will just be another platform for him to try to justify his actions and accuse everyone else.

  • Bede

    This is a sport that was euro-trashed 100+ years before Lance and will continue down that road. If you can come out of nowhere and go from a donkey to a thoroughbred (I’m looking at you Froome) then the old axiom still applies “If it looks too good to be true…”.

  • KennyP

    Mark H: “Quit trying to rehabilitate the repellent snake”? Yeah, great, is that how we are collectively going to get ‘truth and reconciliation’ to work? Cycling is bigger than doping, bigger than Lance Armstrong, but we need as many people round the table as possible. I suggest that attitude isn’t going to help.

    Eamonn: I’m an old enough journo to know that the headline was probably written by a sub-editor or even the sports editor for a big story like this. But as a journo I also know that it’s for journos (like me, I confess) to blame sub editors for changing what I wrote after the fact. The French interview text was clear – the journalist asked him specifically about his era, not the present day. The headline reads like he is referring to the present day.

  • STewart

    Why do journalists continue to give these cheats publicity ! It’s time to wash our hands of them and consign them to history, not giving them column inches so they can earn cash or credibility of a sport they have caused so much damage too! Please the media, blank them !!!!!!!!!

  • mr sneff

    There’s a glaring contradiction in what Armstrong is saying. In the Oprah interview he said that the thing that hurt him most about USADA’s report was that he doped during his comeback, which he says he didn’t. Given that his comeback was to try and win an eighth Tour and that he believes it’s not possible to win the Tour without doping something doesn’t add up.

  • Robert

    It is pretty obvious that Armstrong’s message was that if others are doping, then it is impossible to win a race such as the Tour without doping yourself. Given the effectiveness of autologous blood doping, backed up with micro dosing and so forth (which is still effectively undetectable) he is almost certainly correct. I can also see why this might ruffle a few feathers as it implies that either a) everyone who is a contender in the Tour today must clean or b) doping is still going on and ergo, the winner, whoever they are, will very probably be doping themselves. Only a naive fantasist would stake money on a) being the case. Now follow the logic…

  • chris

    This could be Armstrong’s only revenue stream for a while, charging for interviews before the start of every tour. No sympathy whatsoever, mainly because I bought all his BS right up until the admission.
    I do agree with the criticism of Kimmage, I wonder if he sees the irony in how much his post riding career owes to doping ?

  • Dourscot

    This is probably just a lazy headline writer and nothing more sinister than that. By the way you are right that the headline besmirches the current Tour by implication, which seems hugely unfair (some of the commenters above obviously don’t grasp the full implication of the headline).

    Armstrong caused enough trouble on his own during his career without newspapers distorting what he says to make things even worse.

  • Mike

    As If anyone interested in, or involved in cycling, cares what Armstrong thinks. It may sell papers to the casual observer.

  • Skippy

    Hitting Lance below the belt ? That is only allowed to be done by those hiding in the ” clinic ” of the Cyclingnews forum “?

    This week we have seen Ulrich & JaJa getting the dirt ” dished ” so this is NO SURPRISE !

    Asked Bernard Hinault on Wednesday if hw was next after Indurain , then he decided he did not speak English , oh well what can you expect in corsica ? More to be found on as the 100th Le Tour rolls about France .

  • Eamonn


    From my reading of it, Mandard didn’t misquote LA. ‘LA: That depends on the races that you wanted to win. Win the Tour de France? No. It would be impossible to win without doping. ‘ It’s exactly what LA said. As for being a bit low, LA deserves it, no sympathy for guy, he brings it on himself.

    Enjoy the Tour!!



  • Mark H

    Quit trying to rehabilitate the repellent snake. Quote or misquote, he couldn’t possibly look any worse than he already did.

    If you really want to call out unprincipled journalists, ask Kimmage why he hasn’t asked Garmin how they contrived to turn Farrar into such an almighty waste of space, or why, even after wining a grand tour, Hesjedal’s career festered at a lower UCI Would Tour ranking than supposedly stagnated rider, like Edvald Boasson Hagen, who finished the 2012 season ahead of every single rider in the Garmin squad. Of course you wont, because you are all scared of that particular second-rate hack.