Lance Armstrong says he's at peace with himself

In his first interview since the US Anti-Doping Agency handed him a lifetime ban from professional cycling and stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles, he said that “nobody has to pity me. I will be very good".

Still, it was an attack on his ego that a 16-year-old boy, Keegan Swirbul, beat him on Saturday in the Power of Four bi-mountaineering race. Armstrong finished second, nearly five minutes behind the teenager. 

Shortly after passing the goal, Armstrong spoke for a few minutes until he said: "Okay, I'm going to eat a cheeseburger". 

What I was not sure about was running a marathon on Sunday as planned. 

His foray into the mountains around Aspen in Colorado on Saturday came a day after the American Anti-Doping Association banned him from professional cycling for life and stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles on the grounds that he used stimulants. 

Only a handful of fans watched the start of the Power of Four mountain bike race, a 57-mile (36-kilometer) stretch with many climbs. 

Asked if he was ready, Armstrong smiled and replied, "I hope so... This is going to be hard for all of us." 

His spokesman Mark Higgins said Armstrong plans to attend the World Cancer Congress in Montreal where he is due to deliver a keynote address to thousands of people. 

"There it will be," Higgins said. 

Fans defended Armstrong on Twitter praising the work of his foundation for the fight against cancer. His sporting successes helped sell millions of yellow plastic “Livestrong” bracelets to promote cancer research. He has raised nearly half a billion dollars since he started the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 500. 

On Friday alone, the foundation said it had received 400 donations for a total of about 75.000 dollars. 

The famed cyclist, who retired a year ago and will turn 41 next month, announced Thursday that he would no longer oppose USADA and decided not to exercise his last option, which was to accept arbitration. He insisted that he never took banned substances and called the USADA investigation a "witch hunt." 

USADA Executive Director Travis Tygart called the investigation a battle against "the culture of winning at any cost" and added that the UIC is "obligated to recognize our decision and enforce it."

"He has no alternative but to remove the titles according to the code," he added. 

If the sanction is confirmed, Greg MeMond would remain the only American to win the Tour de France, the highest cycling competition, in 1986, 1989 and 1990. 

LeMond did not immediately return messages from his lawyers and friends seeking a statement. 

On Friday, Armstrong announced on Twitter his plans to run in Aspen, but did not make direct comments on the sanctions. 

The UCI and USADA have waged a jurisdictional struggle to determine who should try the claims against Armstrong. The UIC even backed Armstrong's failed legal objection to USADA's authority. 

If the Tour officials comply with the USADA sanction, Jan Ullrich would be promoted to champion in three of the races Armstrong won. Ullrich was stripped of his third place in the 2005 Tour and retired from cycling two years later after being implicated in another doping case. 

The German cyclist did not express any desire to rewrite the history of cycling. “I have finished my professional career and I always said that I was proud of my second places”. 

For its part, the International Olympic Committee said on Friday it will await decisions from USADA and UIC before taking any action against Armstrong, who won a bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. 

USADA was established in 2000 as the official anti-doping agency for Olympic sports in the United States. Because Armstrong ran in UIC-sanctioned competitions, he was subject to international drug rules enforced by USADA in the United States. 

USADA said its evidence came from more than a dozen witnesses "who agreed to testify and provided evidence of their first-hand experience and/or knowledge of the doping activity of those involved in the USPS conspiracy," referring to the former team. of Armstrong, US Postal Service.



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