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Armstrong: I deserve to compete again

ESPN staff
January 19, 2013 « Robson out in teenage battle | Chartbeat test »
Lance Armstrong comes clean - Part Two

Lance Armstrong has expressed his wish to be allowed to compete again and labelled his current lifetime ban a "death penalty".

The second part of Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey aired on Friday, following his confirmation on Thursday that he did take performance-enhancing drugs during his seven Tour de France victories.

The American shed tears during parts of an interview in which he recalled the moment he told his children of his wrongdoings, but Armstrong believes he deserves to be allowed to compete again. A keen triathlon and marathon enthusiast, he insists it is unfair to ban him from ever taking part in such events in the future.

"If you're asking me, do I want to compete again ... the answer is hell, yes," Armstrong said. "I'm a competitor. It's what I've done my whole life. I love to train. I love to race. I love to toe the line - and I don't expect it to happen.

"Frankly, this may not be the most popular answer, but I think I deserve it. Maybe not right now ... [but] if I could go back to that time and say, 'OK, you're trading my story for a six-month suspension?' Because that's what people got."

Armstrong was referring to 11 former team-mates, some of whom also tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, who received six-months bans after they came forward about the doping scheme that Armstrong had led.

"So I got a death penalty and they got ... six months," Armstrong said. "I'm not saying that that's unfair, necessarily, but I'm saying it's different."

Asked for the worst and lowest moment of the entire ordeal which has seen Armstrong stripped of Tour de France and Olympic honours, as well as sponsors, he highlighted his exit from the Livestrong foundation as the darkest hour. It was a foundation Armstrong founded following his own brush with cancer.

"I wouldn't at all say forced out, told to leave," he said of his Livestrong exit. "I was aware of the pressure. But it hurt like hell. That was the lowest."

Winfrey quizzed Armstrong over how much he had lost financially after his doping scandal came to light. With expected court cases against Armstrong - from companies and individuals he himself has sued in the past - on the horizon, he did not give a specific answer.

"[It] was a $75 million day," Armstrong said. "Gone."

"Gone?" Winfrey asked.

"Gone," he replied, "and probably never coming back."

Armstrong became most emotional when recalling the moment he had to tell his children, some of whom had defended him in the past, that he was in fact a cheat.

"I saw my son defending me and saying, 'That's not true. What you're saying about my dad is not true,' " Armstrong said. "That's when I knew I had to tell him.

"I said, 'Listen, there's been a lot of questions about your dad. My career. Whether I doped or did not dope. I've always denied that and I've always been ruthless and defiant about that. You guys have seen that. That's probably why you trusted me on it.' Which makes it even sicker.

"And I told Luke, 'Don't defend me anymore. Don't.' He said, 'OK.' He just said, 'Look, I love you. You're my dad. This won't change that.'"

Armstrong was also quizzed about a "60 Minutes Sports" interview with United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) chief executive Travis Tygart, in which Tygart claimed a representative of the cyclist had offered a donation to the agency - which was turned down.

"Were you trying to pay off USADA?" Winfrey asked.

"No, that's not true," Armstrong replied. "That is not true.

"In the 1,000-page reasoned decision they issued [last year], there was a lot of stuff in there, everything was in there, why wasn't that in there? Pretty big story. Oprah, it's not true."

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