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Three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond discussed his struggles with attention deficit disorder, being abused as a 12-year-old, racing with (and against) Bernard Hinault, doping and Lance Armstrong on Saturday during a wide-ranging interview with Ger Gilroy posted as a podcast on the Irish website www.newstalk.ie.
Following are a few excerpted highlights:
“A lot of athletes have it. I’m kind of a guy who needs to be doing something to learn it. When I got into cycling, I would say that the sport itself took a fog off my brain. I was able to absorb stuff I read. It changed my life.”
“I was abused as a 12-year-old. That’s something that took a lot of work to overcome. But I think that part of my strength is facing adversity. I don’t really run away from stuff. I might feel like it, at times. But I’m kind of a survivor. In cycling — you can’t really give up in races, even when you’re really dying in a race. And I’ve won races because I don’t give up.”
On questioning the exploits of Lance Armstrong:
“At one point, I didn’t have a choice. I knew too much, let’s just say, from 2000 on. At first, after the Festina affair, the story that Armstrong had lost weight and come back, I bought into the story. But then I started hearing rumors. And the rumors were observations from people within the sport. In 2000 I heard some very disturbing stuff from somebody within the team. And I kind of backed away from cycling at that point. I knew I was in a zero, no-win situation.”
“In the months or years to come there will be a lot of stuff, probably, revealed. It’s not going to be just a black period for doping. … He’s destroyed people. If you go against him he tries to destroy you. He’s been trying that for 10 years with me.”
On reduced sanctions for riders who give up their suppliers:
“I’d much rather have a Floyd (Landis) come out and admit it, but give up his source, because somebody’s giving those drugs to somebody. And it’s usually a doctor, a team manager, somebody. And if they do that and it leads to an outing of those guys, I’m all for them racing within six months. Second time, you’re out. All these doctors — they’re the same ones that were doping riders in the Eighties and Nineties. They’re still there. So it’s those guys, and the people who aren’t willing to change that, who need to go.”
“The riders will play by whatever rules are there. The rules can be improved. Part of that is using science; power outputs, strain gauges. I don’t think we need to suspend people for using Rogaine; it’s the big, massive oxygen drugs we need to push out of the sport, so people can actually have a chance to win the race without having to dope themselves to the max.”
On the sport of cycling:
“I love the sport. Faith in the sport being totally clean? I’ve got to be realistic and say I don’t know if that’s totally possible. Oh, it’ll recover. The question is, do people really care? I think they do.”
On Paul Kimmage and his battle with the UCI:
“I’ll say I’ve donated money to his fund. And the crazy thing is that Paul is — he actually is one of the best writers out there … and he’s doing this because he knows what’s going on. I think it’s a joke, I think, what the UCI is doing. … They sent me the same, threatening lawsuits. I’m an American, and Switzerland has no jurisdiction over me. Sue me all you want. Go to the United States — that’s what I suggested. Come to the United States and sue us.”
For the entire interview, see www.newstalk.ie.