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Armstrong: No generation was 'clean'

ESPN staff
January 30, 2013 « Etim: Renee Forte gets punished at Wembley Arena | Chartbeat test »

Lance Armstrong claims he has been "lynched" as the scapegoat for a doping culture that predates his involvement with cycling, and described the Tour de France as a stunt with a century-long history of cheating.

The disgraced cyclist, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France victories by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in August 2012 after orchestrating what they described as "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen", said that doping went back through some of the most feted eras in the sport, claiming no time in history could claim to be clean.

"My generation was no different than any other," Armstrong told CyclingNews.com. "The 'help' has evolved over the years but the fact remains that our sport is damn hard, the Tour was invented as a stunt, and very tough mother f**kers have competed for a century and all looked for advantages - from hopping on trains a hundred years ago to EPO now.

"No generation was exempt or 'clean'. Not Merckx's, not Hinault's, not LeMond's, not Coppi's, not Gimondi's, not Indurain's, not Anquetil's, not Bartali's, and not mine."

Armstrong also branded International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid 'pathetic' for stating that he had no place in cycling, but gave his backing to the UCI's proposed truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) as a means to offer the sport the chance to wipe the slate clean.

The UCI scrapped their own independent investigation into claims against the federation that it played a role in the prolonged success of the doping program run by Armstrong's United States Postal Service team between 1999 and 2005, claiming that the World Anti-Doping Agency would only support a TRC.

WADA vehemently deny making any such demand, the latest rift in their relationship with the UCI, but Armstrong believes the switch is a positive move for the sport.

"It's not the best way, it's the only way," Armstrong said. "As much as I'm the eye of the storm this is not about one man, one team, one director. This is about cycling and to be frank it's about all endurance sports. Publicly lynching one man and his team will not solve this problem."

Armstrong, who insists his views are unrelated to any hopes of returning to elite sport, believes the commission should call on every living winner of a major cycling event to testify - and offer a complete amnesty on all confessions, "Otherwise no one will show up. No one."

He added: "Let's be honest, folks in my situation have their own selfish reasons. It's why we are here. Floyd [Landis, whose 2006 Tour de France victory was also wiped out after a failed doping test] felt singled out so therefore he went public amongst other things.

"We all made the mess, let's all fix the mess, and let's all be punished equally. Removing my selfishness, the fact remains that is the best thing for cycling.

"Cycling will never die, it will just simmer. Zero growth. Sponsors leaving, races cancelled - this we are seeing. This current state of chaos…will just ensure that cycling goes flat or negative for a decade-plus - which is a real shame for the current crop of young pros the sport has."

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