Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong, at peace with consequences, faces lifelong commitment

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Six years since being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, Lance Armstrong is at peace with decisions made as a young cyclist — many of them mistakes, he says now — and how he handles the consequences he brought on himself decades later.

In “Lance Armstrong: Next Stage,” he looked back on the early choices to join cycling’s doping culture and, later as the face of the sport, taking on critics with the same ruthless mentality he used to ascend the Alps and Pyrenees. Armstrong also explained how years of introspection changed how he views what will be a lifelong commitment to handling the impact of his drug use and lying.

The 30-minute, commercial-free special debuts on NBCSN on Wednesday at 11:30 p.m. ET, after Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. Armstrong sat down with Mike Tirico for an in-depth interview.

Armstrong says now it was the wrong decision to take performance-enhancing drugs, but at the time it was necessary to make it in professional cycling in Europe. Doping was spreading if not pervasive when he arrived in the early 1990s.

“I knew there were going to be knives at this fight. Not just fists. I knew there would be knives,” he said. “I had knives, and then one day, people start showing up with guns. That’s when you say, do I either fly back to Plano, Texas, and not know what you’re going to do? Or do you walk to the gun store? I walked to the gun store. I didn’t want to go home.

“I don’t want to make excuses for myself that everybody did it or we never could have won without it. Those are all true, but the buck stops with me. I’m the one who made the decision to do what I did. I didn’t want to go home, man. I was going to stay.”

Another mistake: Going after those who sought to expose him with the same nastiness he used on the bike.

“I couldn’t turn it off. Huge mistake,” he said. “We’d all love to go back in life and have a few do-overs. I never should have taken it on, especially knowing that most of what they said was true.”

Armstrong said he’s traveled the world trying to rectify what he can. That he has apologized to every person that the public might think deserves one. It will never be enough.

Armstrong splits his at-home time between Austin, Texas, and Aspen, Colo. He is a co-founding partner of Next Ventures, an investment firm focusing on the health and wellness industry. He also launched WEDŪ, an endurance-sports brand, that hosts two podcasts that have built decent audiences.

On “The Move,” Armstrong and others dissect endurance sports with an emphasis on cycling’s Grand Tours.

On “The Forward,” Armstrong interviews myriad personalities, from Charles Barkley to Neil deGrasse Tyson. Armstrong believes that asking questions himself produces unique answers.

“Because they see a guy across the table, they know he’s been nuked,” he said. “They feel a sense of protection there that I can almost tell this guy anything because he’s been through everything.”

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‘Lance Armstrong: Next Stage’ to debut on NBCSN

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NBCSN will broadcast an interview with Lance Armstrong on Wednesday following Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

In a 30-minute special, Armstrong will discuss his career with Mike Tirico in “Lance Armstrong: Next Stage.”

The interview covers the doping culture within cycling when he competed, Armstrong’s separation from the Livestrong Foundation that supports people with cancer and what’s next for him.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” Armstrong told Tirico. “I wouldn’t change the way I acted. I mean I would, but this is a longer answer. Primarily, I wouldn’t change the lessons that I’ve learned. I don’t learn all the lessons if I don’t act that way. I don’t get investigated and sanctioned if I don’t act the way I acted. If I just doped and didn’t say a thing, none of that would have happened. None of it. I was begging for, I was asking for them to come after me. It was an easy target.”

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping by the International Cycling Union in 2012.

He tells Tirico, “We did what we had to do to win. It wasn’t legal, but I wouldn’t change a thing — whether it’s losing a bunch of money, going from hero to zero.”

MORE: Lance Armstrong’s former team director banned for life

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Floyd Landis uses Lance Armstrong lawsuit money to start cycling team

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Floyd Landis is using money he earned by taking down Lance Armstrong to start his own cycling team.

The man whose own doping saga cost him the 2006 Tour de France title and eventually helped expose Armstrong’s cheating says he’s building a developmental team for 2019 that will be based out of Canada.

He says this is his way of trying to rebuild trust inside a cycling community that has viewed him skeptically since he lied about taking performance enhancers in a much-publicized hearing in 2007.

“That’s the main motivation of the whole thing,” Landis said in an interview with The Associated Press. “A lot of things were said about me, and a lot was justified. A lot was PR from people who didn’t like the fact I exposed (the doping). One of the main arguments was, ‘He ran out of money and that’s why he did it.’ It was never the case. But there’s no way to disprove that, and if people don’t believe me now, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Three years after losing his doping case, Landis provided key information about his own doping and that of Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service team, all of which led to Armstrong’s lifetime ban.

Landis is using part of the proceeds from Armstrong’s lawsuit settlement with the government to fund the team. Landis and his legal team split around $2.75 million off the settlement because he brought a whistleblower lawsuit that triggered the case.

Now 42, Landis runs a business in the Colorado mountains, Floyd’s of Leadville, that specializes in marijuana and hemp-based products that are designed to relieve chronic pain.

His company will sponsor the new cycling team, which will take some riders from Silber Pro, a team out of Canada run by former teammate Gord Fraser that is shutting down at the end of this year. The team will also open opportunities for other young riders whose teams were dismantled after losing sponsors.

Landis is well aware his detractors will shake their head at his attempt to get back into the cycling game.

“I don’t like ridicule, obviously, and sometimes it looks like I’m looking for it,” he said. “I hope I can convince everyone that I’m contrite, I’m living my life, and hopefully they can let it go. Most people in cycling know that any support they can get for the sport is good and helpful. This gives me a chance to show them I can run a good team in an ethical way, and gives me a chance to show I know what I’m doing.”