Nobody can win the Tour de France without taking performance-enhancing drugs, Lance Armstrong, the disgraced seven-times winner of the race said today.
In an interview with the French newspaper Le Mondeon the eve of the 100th Tour, Armstrong implied that all recent winners of the race – including Britain’s Sir Bradley Wiggins last year – must have taken some form of dope.
“I didn’t invent doping. It didn’t stop with me either,” Armstrong said.
In reply to the question whether it was possible to win cycle races without dope while he was a professional rider, Armstrong said: “It depends which races you want to win. The Tour de France? Impossible to win it without dope. The Tour is a test of endurance where oxygen is the decisive factor.”
“EPO, for example, is not going to help a sprinter over 100 metres but it will make all the difference to a 10,000 metre runner. That’s obvious.”
Although Armstrong was replying to questions about doping in professional cycling when he was a champion rider (1995-2005), his answers strongly implied that nothing had changed. His comments will infuriate top riders who have succeeded him like Wiggins and this year’s Tour favorite, Chris Froome, who insist that they, and the sport, are now clean.
Asked how the doping habit in cycling could be broken, Armstrong said: “For many reasons, it will never finish, I didn’t invent doping..It didn’t stop with me either. I simply took part in a system which already existed. I am a human being. Doping has existed since Antiquity and will no doubt always exist. I know that’s not a popular thing to say but it is unfortunately the reality.”