WASHINGTON (AFP) — Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, the race’s only American champion not to be disqualified for doping, says Lance Armstrong’s claim he had to cheat to win hurts all winners.
“I get pissed off when I hear that you can’t win the Tour without doping,” LeMond told Cyclingnews.com, saying that Armstrong’s notion that he needed to be a cheat to win tarnishes every other Tour de France champion.
Armstrong confessed to using performance enhancing drugs when he won the Tour seven times in an interview broadcast on Thursday, saying he did not think he could win the event without banned substances such as EPO or blood doping.
“Armstrong has destroyed anyone who has been successful in cycling,” LeMond said.
LeMond, a 51-year-old Californian, won the Tour in 1986, 1989 and 1990. He said he won the race without resorting to performance enhancing drugs because of his talent and dubbed Armstrong’s cycling talent only average at best.
“If Armstrong had given Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton the same stuff he was taking, he would never have won — they would have beaten him,” LeMond said.
LeMond said he saw no remorse from Armstrong in his confession interview with Oprah Winfrey, calling the show a choreographed public relations stunt by Armstrong.
“I didn’t see the need for redemption, the remorse of someone who is truly sorry,” LeMond said. “It was the ideal way to see the real Armstrong. It shed a light on him and I think people could see he is not remorseful.”
LeMond has long questioned Armstrong’s relationship with banned Italian doctor Michele Ferrari.
“I couldn’t go near the Tour de France for fear I would be asked about Armstrong and doping. What could I say?” LeMond said. “I couldn’t sell my soul and switch topics to talk about my 1986 Tour.”
LeMond said he is ready to forgive Armstrong but has not done so yet.
“I believe everyone is entitled to a chance to be forgiven,” LeMond said. “But I’m not convinced.”