Lance Armstrong doping: What we learned from his many lies

The "serial cheat" cyclist, who used performance-enhancing drugs to claim all seven of his Tour de France victories, has said he'd "do it again"

Helen Nianias
Tuesday 27 January 2015 16:31
Lance Armstrong was eventually brought down by the Usada
Lance Armstrong was eventually brought down by the Usada

Lance Armstrong has said that he'd dope again in a new interview. Here's what we learned from his fall from grace.

Don't intimidate your critics

After Armstrong recovered from cancer and won the 1999 Tour De France, journalist David Walsh smelled a rat. He doggedly pursued the cyclist, who was indeed regularly taking drugs including EPO and testosterone, as well as carrying out banned blood transfusions to boost oxygen-carrying red blood cells.

Armstrong continually denied doping, and has now admitted to being a "bully". The way he reacted to Walsh's allegations of cheating was incredibly severe.

He set his lawyers against anybody who dared repeat allegations made by Walsh in his 2004 book LA Confidentiel. He won £1 million from the Sunday Times in damages after the paper repeated allegations made by Walsh.

Armstrong even personally attacked Walsh, saying: "Walsh is the worst journalist I know. There are journalists who are willing to lie, to threaten people and to steal in order to catch me out. All this for a sensational story. Ethics, standards, values, accuracy - these are of no interest to people like Walsh."

Later, Armstrong also admitted to pressuring his teammates into underhand practises. He said "I was an a**hole to a dozen people" in the new BBC interview.

A Stephen Frears-directed film starring Chris O'Dowd, Ben Foster and Dustin Hoffman, Icon, is slated for release this summer. It's easy to guess who the "good guy" is going to be.

Lying costs big

In 2005, Armstrong swore under oath that former racing partner Frankie Andreu was lying about his doping. But such high-profile deception cost him big. After admitting to doping in January 2013, he reportedly lost $75 million in sponsorship in one day.

Previously loyal customers included Nike, who said Armstrong had "misled them for more than a decade", a gym chain, Trek bikes and Michelob beer.

It also served to undermine his work for charity. Having founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 1997, and raised $325 million by selling fashionable yellow Livestrong charity bands in connection with Nike. His credibility in tatters, Armstrong had to stand down from the board of his own charity.

Armstrong also brought his personal life into his doping. He claimed that his wife Kristin asked him not to dope on the condition of his 2009 comeback.

Drugs make you pedal really really fast

Before being diagnosed with cancer in 1996, his best Tour de France position was 36th. The year he came back having overcome testicular cancer, he won the 1999 competition with a tidy seven-hour margin.

Eventually, the United States Anti-Doping Agency banned Armstrong from professional cycling for life and described Armstrong's cheating as "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."

You can play on the same scandal for a good while

Armstrong came out as a cheat in January 2013, and has given an indication that he may well return to the sport, despite a lifetime ban and being stripped of all seven Tour De France titles.

Talking about making a comeback, Armstrong described living in discgrace as a "time out". He said: "Selfishly, I would say yeah, we’re getting close to that time. But that’s me, my word doesn’t matter any more.

"What matters is what people collectively – whether that’s the cycling community, the cancer community – think. Listen, of course I want to be out of time out, what kid doesn’t?"

He has a new TV documentary in the offing, too. Lance Armstrong, The Road Ahead will be shown on BBC News at 8.30pm, Thursday 29 January. There's a sense that we haven't seen the last of him just yet.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in