It was the sporting deception to end them all, and Lance Armstrong has admitted that he would still be lying about doping to this day had he not been unmasked two years ago.
The man who cheated his way to a record seven successive Tour de France triumphs after recovering from cancer revealed that he would never have come clean unless forced to do so.
In a telephone interview with CNN, the disgraced cyclist said: “Once you say ‘no’ you have to keep saying ‘no’. If this stuff hadn’t taken place with the federal investigation, I’d probably still be saying ‘no’ with the same conviction and tone as before. But that gig is up.”
Armstrong, serving a life ban from sport, said that he would not have confessed even for the sake of his five children. “Well, that’s a conversation for my kids. But there was a lot of stuff in that lie, not simply me saying, ‘no’. I couldn’t change the story.”
The relentless ferocity of Armstrong’s denials has been re-examined in the wake of his admission, his behaviour cited as showing the signs of narcissistic personality disorder.
Asked about seeking therapy, Armstrong, 42, said: “My therapy is riding my bike, playing golf and having a beer. I haven’t gotten around to it (therapy). I get it totally, but it’s not something that’s taken place yet.”
Armstrong revealed that he was instead planning a new book, promising it would be completely honest, unlike his fraudulent best-seller, It’s Not About the Bike. “I need to write a book and it needs to be pretty raw,” said Armstrong, who branded the feeding frenzy around his fall from grace a “cesspool”.
“The book needs to be pretty intense and transparent. It has to be the right book, the right tone and there has to be totally no bulls---.”
Having discussed his doping past with the Cycling Independent Reform Commission this summer, he said: “I’m fully committed to putting it all out there.”
But despite insisting he was “sorry” and “embarrassed” by his behaviour, he admitted he had lost all credibility. “I don’t blame anyone for thinking, ‘I don’t trust this guy with all his bulls--- for 10 years.’?”
Armstrong may need the royalties from any book if he loses a $100million lawsuit filed by the US Federal Government in an attempt to recoup the money it invested in sponsoring his Tour de France-winning US Postal team. “I’m very confident that that’s a winner for us,” he said. “I don’t think anyone can truly argue the US Postal Service was damaged. They made a lot of money in the deal and got what they bargained for. I worked my ass off for them and I’m proud of it.”
Armstrong also questioned why he had been banned for life from all sport and stripped of all his Tour de France titles, while other proven dopers had escaped the same fate.
“I think most people are smart enough to say: ‘That doesn’t make any sense,’?” he said, pointing out that drugs had been a scourge on cycling both before and after his time in the sport.