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.”
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“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.”
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 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.
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.”
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.