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Lance Armstrong lied about his use of performance enhancers for years. Worse than that, he ruthlessly decimated anyone who accused him of doing so. Armstrong isn’t the only cyclist to be caught by the United States Anti-doping Agency, but unlike athletes who hid from the media after public disgrace, Armstrong runs toward it.
On Friday, just one day before the 100th Tour de France, Armstrong told French newspaper Le Monde that he still considers himself the record holder with seven wins from the famed race.
That’s a bold statement considering all of his titles and wins were wiped from the history books.
Armstrong doesn’t just remind everyone of his accomplishments, he dismisses his drug use as a normal part of the cycling culture.
“I didn’t invent the culture, but I didn’t try to stop the culture,” he said in his January 17 interview with Oprah.
Not everyone accepts this justification.
“In Lance’s mind everyone was doping because that’s what he did,” said Betsy Andreu, wife of Armstrong's former teammate Frankie Andreu. “My husband, we personally felt the backlash. You don’t dope, you’re going to be off; you’re going to be fired.”
In an interesting twist, Armstrong gave this new interview to the same paper that accused him of doping during his first Tour de France win in 1999. At the time Armstrong said he was being persecuted by "vulture journalists."
"I think what Lance is trying to do is mitigate the damage that he has done to himself," said Andreu. "…we can see that his reality is based in delusion. I really think that he is screaming and he’s talking to these people he couldn’t stand because he fears becoming irrelevant.”
Armstrong may never be irrelevant, after changing the sport’s handling of doping. That doesn’t mean he won’t remain infamous.
His doping “changed the sport for good as far as the athletes were concerned, those who wanted to compete cleanly,” said Andreu. “And people saw if they’re going to go after the biggest fish in the pond, than we can’t take the chance. So I think this is positive not just for cycling, but for all sports.”