While attending this year’s Tour Down Under as a special guest, Greg LeMond seized the opportunity to reaffirm his belief that Lance Armstrong deserves the lifetime ban he received for "doping".
In an interview in Adelaide, Australia, LeMond didn’t mince words about his long-standing, turbulent relationship with the defrocked cyclist, who at one time replaced him as America’s greatest rider.
Once quoted as saying: "If Armstrong’s clean, it’s the greatest comeback. And if he’s not, then it’s the greatest fraud".
“We had a decent relationship, but since 2001 we’ve not had any relationship. I’m not one that holds a grudge but I’m also realistic with who I’m dealing with and he’s not really shown any remorse for what he’s done,” LeMond told members of the Australian press at the start of stage 3 today.
“That’s not about doping but about what he’s done to people’s lives, destroyed them. He took a good ten years out of my life. I’d be willing to talk to him under certain circumstances.”
When asked about Armstrong’s ban, LeMond said he believes he should be kept outside of the sport.
"If anyone deserves a life ban…. Ben Johnson got a life ban in 1988 and relative to that he wasn’t involved in the conspiracy to cover up stuff. I don’t think there’s ever been a cyclist who has ever been involved in that level of deception. It’s unfortunate.”
Asked whether Armstrong should be considered for a reduction in his ban, LeMond said:
“What’s the point, so he can race amateur races? He can do his own races. If there’s anyone who deserved a ban it’s this guy. Otherwise what’s the point in rules. I believe everyone deserves a second chance but it’s like he was positive one time, admitted it and said he was sorry. It’s repeated cover-ups and bribes. There’s nothing like it in the history of cycling.”
LeMond also revisited how Armstrong tried to force him out of the sport, and pressured companies like Trek, to end business ties with him.
“Cycling was my life and it was a major attempt to make sure that I was excluded from it. Even from the tour de France at one point. That’s pretty hard when you have one guy really focused on eliminating you. It was very stressful but it’s really the way he treated me, and I and don’t like being threatened or bullied, so I was willing to risk everything.”
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