The former seven-time Tour de France winner admits in an interview that he'd do it all again if he had to

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong says he would dope all over again, if he had to.

In an interview with the BBC, Armstrong admitted that it’s the “honest answer” that “people don’t like to hear.”

“If I was racing in 2015, no, I wouldn’t do it again, because I don’t think you have to,” he said.

“If you take me back to 1995, when it was completely and totally pervasive, I’d probably do it again. People don’t like to hear that.”

>>> Greg LeMond: If there’s anybody who deserves a life ban, it’s Armstrong

The former seven-time Tour de France winner went on to say that the era in which he chose to start doping was an “imperfect time,” and though it was a bad decision, ultimately it propelled the sport’s growth to greater heights.

“When I made the decision – when my team-mates made that decision, when the whole peloton made that decision – it was a bad decision and an imperfect time. But it happened,” Armstrong said.

“When Lance Armstrong did that, I know what happened. I know what happened to cycling from 1999 to 2005. I saw its growth, I saw its expansion.

“I know what happened to the cycling industry. I know what happened to Trek Bicycles – $100m (£66.5m) in sales, to $1bn in sales.”

Armstrong celebrates his seventh Tour win next to Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich. (Sunada)

Armstrong celebrates his seventh Tour win next to Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich. (Sunada)

Armstrong was speaking in his first television interview since he confessed to doping in a highly publicised interview with Oprah Winfrey in January 2013, having already been given a life ban from cycling by the UCI after a long-running USADA investigation into his US Postal Service team.

>>> Emma O’Reilly: Lance Armstrong is paying the price for being a bully

The Texan says his main regret, rather than the use of performance enhancing drugs, is the way he behaved towards others at the time, having launched a number of law suits and verbal attacks on those who threatened to reveal that he was doping.

“I would want to change the man that did those things, maybe not the decision, but the way he acted,” he said.

“The way he treated other people, the way he just couldn’t stop fighting. It was great to fight in training, great to fight in the race, but you don’t need to fight in a press conference, or an interview, or a personal interaction.

“That’s the man that really needed to change and can never come back.”

Armstrong also insisted he still considers himself the winner of the seven Tours between 1999 and 2005, and that the records can’t be left empty.

“I think there has to be a winner, I’m just saying that as a fan,” said Armstrong.

“I don’t think history is stupid, history rectifies a lot of things. If you ask me what happens in 50 years, I don’t think it sits empty… I feel like I won those Tours.”

Armstrong remains adamant that he rode his comeback Tours clean. (Sunada).

Armstrong remains adamant that he rode his comeback Tours clean. (Sunada).

Greg LeMond, who now stands as the only American to have won the Tour since Armstrong was stripped of his titles, said earlier this week his compatriot deserved his life ban and that it shouldn’t be reduced.

But Armstrong is hopeful that his ban could still be reduced, as he reiterates he’s willing to work with the Cycling Independent Reform Commission, saying that he’s been completely “transparent” with the panel’s investigation.

“The ban is completely out of my hands,” he said. “And I think in most people’s minds, even if it’s unrealistic to them, it’s one that I left myself with no choice on.”

“I have met them twice…everybody knows I have met with them, so that is not a secret. I think it’s safe for me to say that whatever questions they asked, I told. A lot of it is out there. So I don’t know if there’s a whole lot out there left, but I was totally honest, and I was totally transparent.”

Armstrong reiterated that he rode his comeback Tours in 2009 and 2010 completely clean, despite  what is said in USADA’s report, and would be willing to have his blood samples tested from that time once a detection for blood transfusions has been produced.

  • Nicky McG

    Because you think he doped? Even though there are no rumours he doped and Lance offered a lot of money to his ex-team mates to say he doped. Try again..

  • Nicky McG

    ‘fan-boy’?.. You know nothing about cycling. Doping depended on access to products and doctors, money and resources, how well your body reacted and how much of a risk you were willing to take with your health. The hematocrit limit of 50% was brought in to stop riders killing themselves. ( Why do you think Riis had the nickname ‘Mr 60%’?)Those with a relatively low hematocrit had far more of a potential gain than those with a naturally high one. A perfect example of why doping doesn’t ‘level the playing field.

    People went after Lance because he was a bully who made so many enemies by the way he treated them (including Greg Lemond). You think Lemond went after Lance because he was jealous? And you call me the fanboy?

    An exceptional rider could compete against someone on steroids. Not the case with EPO. Lemond has said himself that it was never a decision he had to make and feels sorry for those who did dope.

  • jackobean

    Lemond’s a hypocrite. Quit cryin’ and deal w/ it.

  • Nicky McG

    Ridiculously ignorant post. If doping levelled the playing field, do you think Riis would have won the TdF if everyone was clean? Nobody was using EPO when Lemond started winning. Lance was never a GT rider (just look at his early results). Lemond has lost a lot of time, money and business by accusing Lance. Turns out he was vindicated.

  • athousandmonkeys

    Hate to break it to ya, Cupcake, but insulting people is NOT “a real indicator of” a lack of intelligence. Duh.

  • athousandmonkeys

    ^ Yep, just like I said — soooooooooooooo much denial!

  • BigE

    Numbers alone don’t win the races. Lance had great numbers on the juice. But they weren’t the best of the bunch by any means. He prepared better, raced better, had better strategy on the roads and put together a better team. He also rode like a man posessed, something those with naturally high levels don’t always do.

  • BigE

    Let’s not forget that Greg was a very reserved racer. Someone almost scared to attack. If we race the numbers, Greg is superior. If we race the riders, Lance is what we have all witnessed, a tenacious, fearless talent who won 7 tours against the best riders in the world. And they were all juiced.

  • mac

    Yeah, you really seem like it. Insulting people is a real indicator of intelligence.

  • Tony Short

    Who’s in denial? Anyone with a brain cell knows that cycling has been dogged by doping scandals throughout it’s history. The O.P. mentioned LeMonds all time time trial record and suggested it was evidence that he’d doped, and I replied that it was achieved on a downhill course with a moderate tailwind and that LeMond is reputed to have the fourth highest VO2 max in history. None of us has any actual evidence that LeMond took drugs and as his career ended 30 years ago it just strikes me as pretty cheap to go slagging the guy off and claiming as someone did that he wasn’t fit to carry Armstrongs jockstrap when we DO have evidence that Lance cheated big time for many years, ruined many lives and careers, denied it all until he got busted by Travis Tygart and is now crying like a baby cos he can’t ride anymore. Man I nearly puked when in the BBC interview he said he couldn’t ride a sportive to fund raise for an MS charity. How about you give the charity some money out of your massive bank balance Lance?
    People (mostly Americans) are whingeing that Lance is taking the rap for a whole bunch of cheats. Well maybe he is, but boy does he deserve it! How can the guy complain? He knew what he did was wrong, he knew it when he took the money and adulation, he knew it when he behaved like an asshole, and he knew it when he stood on the Champs Elysèe spouting about believing in clean sport. Please someone pass me a bucket.

  • bobbysatwat .

    Lance did what he had to at the time for him and no one else, most that critize are jealous of his success/acheivments, i don,t condone his drug use! but you have to admire a man that acheived what he did without general public knowing he was drug taking… I beleive he would still won the races he did win, what choice did have when all the other competitors were on the juice, or think of it another way DRUGS enabled him to beat cancer why not use the same method to beat other cyclists, Hey just my 5%…

  • athousandmonkeys

    Wow, so much denial, so little time.

  • athousandmonkeys

    I only meant that doping levelled the playing field in as much as the fact that ALL the genuine GC contenders were doing the same thing.

    Of course, no amount of doping can ‘turn a donkey into a thoroughbred’, as many of these anti-Lance morons actually appear to think.

  • athousandmonkeys

    Ummmmmmmmmmm, no actually, I’m NOT American. Duh.

  • athousandmonkeys

    Evidently, someone who’s WAY more intelligent and insightful than YOU.

  • Me

    And what are you exactly?

  • Me

    He did raise MILLIONS for cancer and made MILLIONS for everyone riding on his fame however.

    How did cancer benefit from the millions?
    How did people riding on his frame benefit from the millions?

  • Me

    Yeah, just like you beat up your wife when you’re drunk. Wild accusations without a shred of proof are great, are they not.

  • Me

    You don’t know a thing about Greg Lemond do you? So you should shut up right now. Or is it OK for complete strangers to accuse you of stuff too?

  • Joe Barnett

    UCI did nothing I think you’ll find.

  • Tony Short

    “they are all cheating, in every professional sport. Do I have proof, nah, but do we really need it. LOL. ”

    You do know when you say something so dumb that people will stop taking you seriously right? I mean who needs proof anyway? It’s just so last year, it’s for squares and stuff.

  • Bob Arsenault

    I agree with msbabes. And I don’t think it’s changed in this ‘modern day’ of change either. It may be a different enhancement, but as I’ve said in the past, there is no way these guys can perform at that level, for 30 days, wracking their body in pain, as awesome as they are, without ‘assistance.’ I’m sorry, I’m not a believer. I’m one of those that Lance mentioned in his last speech, ‘sorry you can’t be dreamers, believers.’ Yep. I’m one of those. I say from the 1st guy to the last guy, they are all ‘assisted,’ or they’re not making the cut. Again, sorry to burst the bubble. I don’t care how sincere someone is about not being on the stuff. I don’t care how kind they are in their denial. In this professional sport, and in most, if not all sport, they are getting assisted. Period. Or else, they’re not performing on that level. It just makes common sense. These athletes have so much at stake, not the least of which is, as Lance says, ‘going back to a bike shop, working in a factory, scrubbing floors, or maybe even a high paying job…’ but they’re not in the Tour w/o taking the stuff. No way. Hincappie was one of the most sincere guys. Most, if not all thought, no way, no Hincappie. He would have went to his grave without admitting that he cheated, IMHO, if he didn’t get caught. And we too…a lot of us, would have went to the grave believing him. Well, it’s no different for the riders of today…so sincere. So believable…but sincerity doesn’t equal truth. I can be sincere, and sincerely wrong (a liar). Anyway, I stand by my position…they are all cheating, in every professional sport. Do I have proof, nah, but do we really need it. LOL. Look at Wes Welker…a receiver…caught. Really? The tennis dudes are taking it, the golf dudes are taking it, the tri-athletes are taking it, the ping pong dudes are taking it…if it helps you win millions, and you want to be pro…you’re on the stuff…who knows what the stuff is, but the fact is, they are on it. Again, sorry to shatter the bubbles out there.

  • The_Guru

    YOU are wrong doping doesn’t level the playing field, its a big factor that teams with more financial backing did have a greater advantage especially postal whos doping regieme was second to none (private jets, top Doctors etc.) but even when you exclude that there are a lot of anatomical factors which come into play.Its not so simple as to say every single rider gets the same effect from the same drugs people react differently in fact many riders who had better better natural ability e.g. higher VO2, higher natural hematocrit, VT etc. whom have been hugely successful before their conti and pro-conti stints, have said they’ve been dropped over and over by the bunch even when they are doping at the higher levels. The thing about lance Armstrong is the reason he admitted his doping to the public is because he wanted to lessen his consequences namely his life ban he is an asshole read the book ‘The Secret Race’ by Tyler Hamilton who is a former team mate of lance he gives a good perspective on the whole Lance situation.

  • Peter Marlow

    Hey athousandmonkesy… y ou’re not an American by any chance are you? Oh I see, you are, dear oh dear. Listen up dude, and listen good (as you wallys would put it) Lance is a FAIL. A hasbeen and a neverwas.

  • Shaun The Penguin

    The comment section seems to be slating LeMond more than Armstrong. What is wrong with you people? You, and Armstrong can try and justify his actions as much as you want but the fact of the matter is, he doped, was a bully, threatened people, and is not remorseful in any way for his actions. His achievements and promotion of the sport should not be praised when it was brought about in such a cynical way.

  • David Chadderton

    This is hardly newsworthy. It’s repetition; no points for that. Racers rode in breach of their annual licence contracts and conditions of employment. So, the justification was that it brought more people into the health benefits of cycling?

  • msbabes

    If Lance Armstrong can say openly in all his interviews that everyone doped, without USANA contesting it, then it’s probably true! 🙂

  • athousandmonkeys

    You pathetic, deluded fool.

  • athousandmonkeys

    You’re wrong, Bob. Doping DID level the playing field. The field they were all playing in at that time was “who can dope the best without getting caught”.

  • athousandmonkeys

    Well said, Lance!

    Ignorant, self-righteous do-gooders hate to hear the genuine truth, and will attempt to decry and silence it at every opportunity — but that doesn’t change the fact that it IS indeed the TRUTH.

  • Zander Loftus

    I’d take the VO2max scores out of the debate, depends when his ventilatory threshold occurs. 92.5 is ridiculously high but still at 84… Lance could overall have a better aerobic capacity if his VT is higher. I agree with everything you’re saying though,

  • Peter Marlow

    Lance is a prat. End of.

  • Peter Marlow

    So, as incredible as it seems, there are still many Americans still rooting for Lance. And some of them have found their way onto Cycling Weekly’s website this evening! LOL. Get real you noobs, Lance was a MAJOR cheat – probably the biggest fraudster in all world sport.

    Greg – who knows? If he did, at least he wasn’t an abusive power-tripping sociopath.

    I’m still waiting for Lance to be offered a Hollywood movie contract. I’m sure he’d keep many halfwits happy playing the trigger-happy all American hero. The guy that can never lose, “cos it just ain’t in the script man”.

    Brad Wiggins won theTour once. But in my book he’s the greater hero by far – because he did it clean.

  • Jayne

    Cycling weekly is still crucifying Lance. Who gives a damn what LeMouth says? He’s got some kind of personal vendetta against Lance over a business deal he lost out on, not because Lance doped. And interjecting quotes that people said years ago? Stop doing this Cycling Weakly, this is not journalism, it’s some twit’s idea of what to put on the web.

  • Tony Short

    Bob maybe you should replace “everyone doped” with “many doped” because neither you nor I or anyone else can be certain about the extent of drug taking in cycling or sport as a whole. I’m sure that many of us have a healthy scepticism about the whole drugs thing and I certainly agree with you that doping was and probably still is prevalent in many sports, but it doesn’t make anyone thick or naiive to give Greg LeMond the benefit of the doubt for something he achieved 30 years ago. Until there is some physical evidence or at least very strong circumstantial evidence pointing to him or anyone else being a cheat (as was most definitely the case with Lance) then we can’t just go smearing everyone in sport by association.

  • Asheville Attorney

    I agree with what you said until the “unrepentant” part. While neither of us know what is in Lance’s heart, his words remind me of myself as a (somewhat) mature adult looking back on my foolish early 20s self. Lance was a bully and an asshole then, and may still have some residual amount of that in him (like many superior athletes), but his words as reported in this article rang true to me.

    I believe he likely was the best cyclist in those 7 Tours, but we will never know. But we do know that almost all, if not all, of the major competitors in those races, and all or almost all of the domestiques, also doped. A sad time for cycling, but the reality is that almost everyone did it.

    And I acknowledge that there are some riders who did not dope, and who were therefore not competitive, and they, and we, will always wonder if they could have been competitive on an equal footing. We will never know.

  • Vince Cully

    Your statement is a little correct….For the top tier teams, the field was definitely level as those with the financial wherewithal had access to the doping gurus. They were not team specific as evidenced by the operation puerto.

    What you don’t seem to understand is that: Johan and Armstrong were ground breaking in their approach to the tour. The first team to implement preview riding of strategic stages, high altitude simulation tents, aerodynamic everything from helmets to frames to riding kits, etc. It’s little things like these that added up to gains on the road….and they’re not dope!

  • Vince Cully

    I was a huge LeMond fan. Read his books and all….Now you’ve got to think about this: LeMond is shot by his brother in law and almost succumbs in 1987. Then goes on to a miraculous, last second, comeback victory against Laurent Fignon in 1989 after missing two tours……with lead pellets still lodged in his body. In light of Armstrong’s comeback from cancer, why should this miraculous ending of LeMond’s escape scrutiny?

    And…the stain left on cycling was there before Armstrong with the whole Festina affair

    Like it or not….LeMond gave cycling’s popularity a nice boost during his championship years, but Armstrong’s effect on cycling was exponentially greater.

  • Bob Arsenault

    I agree with the folks about LeMond. He’s as guilty as the abuse he suffered from as a child. He doped, no question. If I were Lance, and my livielihood was dependend on taking the stuff becuase everyone else was, then I too would do it. No question. Those that say they wouldn’t, well, it doesn’t matter, because they wouldn’t have any livelihood to maintain, or not in the sport of cyling anyway, because they wouldn’t be a rider in the tour…period. Get it thru your thick skulls people…EVERYONE DOPED, and EVERYONE IS DOPING. sorry to burst your bubble. when millions are on the line…everyone is cheating…in every sport, no matter if it is baseball, football, cyclin, crocket, dancing, ping pong…all of them are, period…sorry to burst your bubble oh niave one.

  • Bob

    Doping did NOT level the playing field. It was who can cope the best without getting caught

  • Tony Short

    I just checked some reports about this time trial and it had a 250 foot downhill gradient and was raced in a “moderate tailwind.” LeMond reportedly had a VO2 max of 92.5 which is one of the highest ever recorded. Lances VO2 max was reputed to be 84. None of us can be sure if LeMond doped or not but from reading his many articles on doping and his active role in the anti doping camp I would suggest not. The main difference between Armstrong and LeMond is that only one of them is conniving, bullying unrepentant asshole that has left a stain on the whole of sport.

  • LeMond couldn’t carry Armstrong’s jock let alone be worthy to carry it. Lance Armstrong won the TDF 7 times. It’s good that he regrets the bullying. He will always be a Champion to me.

  • Hell’s Kitchen

    I have to agree with you on this. . I think that LeMond doped, he had to of, just like people said that Armstrong had to have doped, it was that testing was virtually non-existent in LeMond’s time. . so, he knows he could never be caught.. .

  • jackobean

    Why is LeMond still chiming in? Doesn’t he STILL hold the record for fastest average time-trial? Who really believes he wasn’t doping? And, he knows everyone Lance rode against was doping as well. Doping leveled the playing field. LeMond’s just bitter because he knows -all equal- Lance would have squashed ’em like a grape.