Ukrainian president compares nation to Lance Armstrong

A slightly awkward comparison?

We’ve all grown accustomed to hearing politicians grandstanding and making grandiose speeches, but a recent comment by the president of the Ukraine is likely to raise a few eyebrows.

Volodymyr Zelensky, an actor and comedian turned politician who was elected as head of state in the Ukraine earlier this year, has made an unusual comparison between his country and disgraced former pro Lance Armstrong.

Zelensky, who starred as the president of the Ukraine in his own TV comedy until he actually took on the role, made the unusual statement in a tweet where he argued the country was at a crossroads.

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“Despair destroys us or makes us stronger,” Zelensky said. “Today, Ukraine is at this crossroads.

“We’re the Apple, starting in the garage. We’re Lance Armstrong, defying the odds.

“The dark times that have held us back are receding as we look to a future full of opportunities.”

The 41-year-old made the comments while discussing the first Invest in Ukraine forum, held on Tuesday (October 29), established to encourage possible partnerships between the Eastern European nation and the rest of the world.

It’s not clear from the tweet whether Zelensky’s reference to Armstrong included the seven-time Tour de France winner’s eventual fall from grace and admission of large-scale doping, which resulted in the titles being stripped from the Texan’s palmarès.

Zelensky’s words are most likely in reference to Armstrong’s testicular cancer diagnosis in 1996 and eventual return to professional racing.

Armstrong came back from cancer treatment to win seven consecutive Tours de France between 1999 and 2005, only to be stripped of the victories in 2012 after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) published its explosive report into Armstrong’s doping.

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The following year, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, he then admitted taking performance enhancing drugs for much of his career.

Either Zelensky’s comments were intended to be tongue in cheek, or he has quite a lot of cycling history to catch up on.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.