Lance Armstrong was asked by the BBC if he was a man on the street, a cycling fan, would he forgive Armstrong now, say it’s time to move on, two years after Armstrong admitted to doping during his career.
“That’s really not fair,” Armstrong said in a wide-ranging interview. “Listen, I’m not going to lie to you. Selfishly, I would say, yeah, we’re getting close to that time, but that’s me. My word doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is ultimately what collectively those people on the street, whether that’s the cycling community, the cancer community, it matters what they think. Listen, of course I want to be out of timeout. I mean, what kid doesn’t?”
Armstrong answered on more topics, including if he thought he should get his seven stripped Tour de France titles back from 1999 to 2005. The titles were not given to the second-place finishers or anyone else. Most of the best cyclists from Armstrong’s era admitted to doping, too, some of whom have not been stripped of Tour accolades.
“It’s not for me to say,” Armstrong said, according to the BBC’s transcript. “If I’m not the winner … I think there has to be a winner. I’m just saying that as a fan.
“If you go to Wikipedia and you look at the Tour de France, there’s this huge block in World War I with no winners, and there’s another block in World War II. And then it seems like there’s another world war. There has to be a winner.
“But I’m not trying to, you know, puff myself up. It was an unfortunate time. It was a terrible time, an imperfect storm … there needs to be a winner.
“I don’t think history is stupid. I can tell you history isn’t stupid. History ultimately rectifies a lot of these things. If you had to ask me what I think happens in 50 years, I don’t think it sits empty in 50 years. Maybe somebody else’s name is there. But you can’t leave it empty.”
Armstrong was also asked if he would take performance-enhancing drugs again.
“It’s a complicated question, and my answer is not a popular answer,” Armstrong said, according to the BBC transcript. “If I was racing in 2015, no, I wouldn’t do it again, because I don’t think you have to do it again. 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.”
Armstrong took issue with facets of his lifetime ban. First, that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency called his U.S. Postal Service team’s systematic doping “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
“Lance Armstrong is not the biggest fraud in the history of world sport,” Armstrong said, according to the BBC transcript. “U.S. Postal was not the most sophisticated doping program. To say that in light of all you read about the East Germans, the West Germans, the Turks, the Russians, God forbid, all the other major sports leagues in the world. No.”
Armstrong said he’s frustrated that he couldn’t do something like, for example, run the Boston Marathon in 4 hours, 15 minutes and raise $100,000 for charity.
“I don’t know how anybody thinks that’s right,” Armstrong said. “Nothing benefits me by going and running a slow marathon.”
Armstrong regretted the timing of his Oprah Winfrey interview in January 2013, saying it “probably needed another three to six months” before happening.
“The fallout has been heavy, maybe heavier than even I thought,” Armstrong told the BBC. “But it seems like there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.”