Lance Armstrong says he still considers himself a Tour de France champion despite his spectacular fall from grace for using performance-enhancing drugs.
In a recent interview with Outside magazine, the defrocked champion said he thinks his fellow competitors would agree that he genuinely won cycling’s greatest event.
"Yes, I feel that I won the races," he said in what Outside billed as his first public appearance since his January 2013 doping confession to talk show diva Oprah Winfrey following years of denials.
"I know that is not a popular answer, but the reality is that … it was just a messy time," he said, referring to widespread doping in cycling. "It was basically an arms race, and we all played ball that way."
In addition, he said, it would be "a mistake, and it would be disrespectful to the sport, to leave seven years empty" and fail to recognize a Tour winner between 1999 and 2005.
"If I didn’t win, then somebody needs to win," he said.
"Of course I’m going to say I won — but ask the guys (fellow Tour de France competitors) that went and suffered with you and ask them, ‘Did he win?’ I think I know what they’d say."
While he’s no longer able to race professionally, and detached from the Livestrong foundation he founded, Armstrong says that he still rides "occasionally", but runs "more than anything" in order to keep fit.
As for what his legacy will be, he said:
"I don’t know. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about that … Honestly, I have no idea what the future holds."
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