In an interview with Le Monde, Lance Armstrong said that it was "impossible" to win the Tour de France at the height of the EPO era without doping and that he still considers himself the rightful winner of his seven Tour titles.
“The Tour de France? No. Impossible to win without doping because the Tour is an endurance event where oxygen is decisive,” he told Le Monde.“To take one example, EPO will not help a sprinter to win a 100m but it will be decisive for a 10,000m runner. It’s obvious.”
Immediately after the interview broke, a host of current pros berated Armstrong for his comments, claiming he was seeking to steal attention ahead of the Tour and undermining the current "clean" generation of riders.
Taking to Twitter, Armstrong clarified his comments, reiterating that he was referring principally to era in which he raced. “99-05. I was clear with Stephane Mandard (the sports editor of Le Monde) on this. Today? I have no idea. I’m hopeful it’s possible,” he wrote.
Five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault responded angrily to Armstrong's comments, and laughed at the idea that doping is a cultural problem in the sport given the lack of positives among young riders (despite the fact that many experts believe a conservative doping program is undetectable with today's tests).
“Stop saying it’s cultural for God’s sake. It’s impossible. There are plenty of young riders who’ve had dope tests and not tested positive … It’s constant suspicion," Hinault told BFM TV.
UCI President Pat McQuaid, who is regularly criticized for abetting Armstrong's doping and taking bribes to cover positives results, dismissed Armstrong and said the sport is looking forward, not back. “Armstrong’s views and opinions are shaped by his own behavior and time in the peloton. Cycling has now moved on,” McQuaid said.