Despite being at the centre of one of the biggest doping scandals to ever hit professional sport, Lance Armstrong hopes that fans will still remember the hard work that he put in to win the seven Tour de France titles that were later stripped from him.
Speaking in a podcast (opens in new tab) with fellow former US Postal riders George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, and Dylan Casey after participating in a 24-hour mountain bike race at the weekend, Armstrong said that people shouldn't forget the hard work that riders put in, even if they were doping at the same time.
"At US Postal the narrative was ‘we have the best technology, we train the hardest, we do the best reconnaissance, we have the smartest tactics, we have the best director, we’re in the wind tunnel, we watch our diet’ - all these things. That’s what we did," Armstrong explained.
"Everything was on the table. It’s a painful thing for me when my story went down in 2012, the entire world shifts and says ‘oh this asshole told us it was the training and the diet and the team and the reconnaissance and the…’ and so the whole world shifted and said ‘well it was none of that, it was the doping’."
Armstrong said that people needed to reconsider whether his transformation from cancer sufferer to Tour de France winner to drug cheat could be viewed in the black and white terms.
"It’s not as if there’s this shift from white hat story all the way to a black hat story and neither are true. It’s a grey hat story.
"Somebody asked me the other day ‘if you could just do one thing to change the story’, then that would be it.
"The one thing I would hate to think is that we forget all of the hard work that we did."
Armstrong also addressed the $100 million lawsuit that he is facing from former team-mate Floyd Landis and the US Justice Department over whether Armstrong and Tailwind Sports, the company which owned the US Postal team, defrauded the government out of funds by taking performance enhancing drugs.
"I was surprised at how widely spread the news was, but I wanted to address a few things. First of all we believe in the case and the merits of the case from our perspective. We believe that the Postal Service greatly benefited and while the situation is not perfect, we don’t believe that they can go back and undo all of the good that was done over all of those years.
"I think the most important thing to say is that I absolutely loved representing the postal service. I loved wearing that jersey, I loved riding around Europe, riding down the Champs-Élysées and hearing the national anthem while wearing that jersey.
"It could have been any team during those years; it could have been a foreign team it could have been another American team, but it was an honour and a real pleasure to represent that organisation and I think we did great things."
"I know there are many out there who feel that I need to be punished severely, and I understand those of you who feel that way, but my life hasn’t been without punishment. Some of it public like this, some of it not, but there have been many other cases which have had to be resolved that have changed our life, and when I saw our I mean me and my family.
"But on this one we believe the merits and the law are on our side. And if you’re supportive then thank you for being supportive, and if not then I get it, and I understand."
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Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
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