“He’s...not normal,” reasoned LeMond. “He has no problem with it. He’s not like you, me, anyone. The thought process isn’t the same with him as those who have come out and admitted it. There’s no conscience (with Lance). There’s no remorse with him.”
LeMond retired in 1994 and since then has become an outspoken critic of dopers in the peloton, as well as the way the sport’s governing body, the UCI, has handled the controversy.
He believes the culture of doping in the sport is something the latter must take responsibility for.
“I have to imagine that if nobody was ever given a chance to even think doping was an option, most people wouldn’t want to do it. Maybe I’m wrong but I think the majority play by the rules. If you’re in an environment where everybody thinks they’re going to get caught if they dope, then you’ll change your mind and not do it. But, on the flip side, if you think you can get away with it, that doesn’t make the people bad if they dope, it just means the culture is bad.”
Last month, UCI president Pat McQuaid said: “The UCI has nothing to be apologetic about. UCI has always been the international federation that does most in the fight against doping.”
Those words don’t sit easily with LeMond. “I just hope the UCI can show that they’re really for this idea of eradicating drugs but what they should do is volunteer to create a whole new independent deal that takes the drug testing away from them.”
LeMond also detailed how Armstrong’s “PR machine” has managed to keep his reputation largely intact amongst Americans and cited an example of how that machine put LeMond through “the worst years of his life”.
Armstrong put Trek bikes on the map with his Tour wins but when LeMond questioned him, the Texan, believes Armstrong tried to “bring him down” as he had a share in the business with his line of LeMond bikes.
“I paid a huge price (for questioning Armstrong),” he said. “They’ll take what you said and feed forums and continue to work it against you. That’s the people they have. Strategists. Political strategists that do that for a living. They were saying I’m bad for the sport and bad for cycling and a bad business person and that because I’d talked about doping and...that was Armstrong. That’s what Armstrong was successful in. They had a good PR machine.”