Sunday 21 January 2018

'It's my fault that Chris Froome constantly has to answer doping questions' - Lance Armstrong

Disgraced Olympic cycling champion Lance Armstrong
Disgraced Olympic cycling champion Lance Armstrong

Matt McGeehan

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong admits he is culpable for Tour de France leader Chris Froome fielding questions on doping.

But the 43-year-old American, who was stripped of his record seven Tour titles for using performance-enhancing drugs, has no regrets about commenting on Twitter on Froome's victory on Tuesday's 10th stage to La Pierre-Saint-Martin.

The win saw the Team Sky leader take a commanding advantage of almost three minutes in the Tour's yellow jersey.

Armstrong, who will return to the roads of the Tour on Thursday for a charity ride alongside former England footballer Geoff Thomas, fielded questions on Twitter about Froome's performance and reacted, writing: "Too strong to be clean? Don't ask me, I have no clue."

Speaking on his arrival in France on Wednesday, Armstrong told Sky Sports News: "Anything regarding a bike race is going to be closely scrutinised and questioned. I get those questions all the time, and the question is: Can this be believed? Are these guys clean? Is everybody like you Lance?"

"I put it out there as, 'Don't ask me that question because I don't know that answer'.

"I tried to clarify it even later by saying I don't have any credibility on that issue, I know that.

"I know what it's like for a guy like Chris to be in the middle of a Tour to deal with the constant questions which of course he is, and to be fair and to be honest to him a lot of that is my fault.

"Whoever is winning the Tour de France in 2015 should not be answering questions about somebody that won it 10 or 15 years ago. That's just not legitimate, that's not true."

After years of denials, Armstrong confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs in each of his Tour victories and his participation in two stages of the charity ride has been the subject of much debate.

Brian Cookson, the president of the sport's governing body, the UCI, said Armstrong was not welcome, but Froome understood the charity element, as his mother died due to a blood cancer-related illness.

Armstrong makes no apology for his comments on Twitter.

"I have no regrets," he said.

"I was totally transparent and honest about it, I said don't ask me the question because I don't know the answer. I regret other tweets in my life but not those.

"I don't really care, that's not my role to opine about that. I've got other comments and thoughts about the stage that I said, but by simply throwing it out there that I don't know and don't ask me, that has somehow translated into 'these guys are dirty', which is the last thing I want to say because I don't know that."

Thomas is riding Le Tour-One Day Ahead - taking on the entire 3,360-kilometres route of the 2015 Tour one day ahead of the professional peloton - to celebrate the 10th anniversary of entering remission and riding the 2005 Tour route.

Armstrong was an inspiration to Thomas, who is aiming to raise £1million for Cure Leukaemia, the blood cancer charity he owes his life to and is patron of.

The 12-rider group, including Armstrong, will take on stage 13 from Muret to Rodez on Thursday and stage 14 from Rodez to Mende on Friday.

Press Association

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