Lance Armstrong claims it was impossible to win Tour de France without using drugs
Lance Armstrong has claimed it was impossible to win the Tour de France without using drugs.
Last Updated: 28/06/13 1:32pm
On the eve of the 100th running of the world's biggest cycling race, the American told French newspaper Le Monde that doping was so widespread at the time that only those who took drugs could win.
"The Tour de France? No. Impossible to win without doping," Armstrong said.
"My name was taken out of the palmares [list of achievements] but the Tour was held between 1999 and 2005 wasn't it? There must be a winner then. Who is he? Nobody came forward to claim my jerseys."
Armstrong spent years vehemently denying repeated claims that he had doped, pointing to the fact he never failed a drugs test.
But the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) continued to pursue a case against him, and last year published a report describing his doping programme as "the most sophisticated in the history of sport".
'I did not invent doping'
Armstrong subsequently admitted doping and was stripped of his seven Tour titles, while being banned for life. The Texan feels like he was scapegoated by Usada chief Travis Tygart, and hit back in the interview.
"I did not invent doping. Sorry, Travis," he said. "And it [doping] has not stopped with me. I just took part in the system.
"The USADA 'reasoned decision' perfectly managed to destroy a man's life but it has not benefited cycling at all."
The 41-year-old also hit out at International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid claiming the Irishman - currently facing a re-election challenge from British Cycling's Brian Cookson to remain as head of the sport's world governing body - must go if cycling is to clean up.
"Things just cannot change as long as McQuaid stays in power," Armstrong said. "The UCI refuses to establish a truth and reconciliation commission because the testimony that everyone would want to hear would bring McQuaid, [his predecessor] Hein Verbruggen and the whole institution down."
McQuaid later released a statement of his own, which read: "It is very sad that Lance Armstrong has decided to make this statement on the eve of the Tour de France.
"However, I can tell him categorically that he is wrong. His comments do absolutely nothing to help cycling. The culture within cycling has changed since the Armstrong era and it is now possible to race and win clean.
"As I have said on numerous occasions, I have nothing to hide and no fear of any investigation or truth and reconciliation process. If Armstrong - or indeed anyone else - has evidence to the contrary, he should produce it now and put a stop to this ongoing damage to cycling."