LeMond: Any Armstrong apology has to be heartfelt and with true remorse
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Monday, January 28, 2013

LeMond: Any Armstrong apology has to be heartfelt and with true remorse

by Shane Stokes at 7:54 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Doping
Triple Tour winner not convinced that Armstrong can change

Greg LeMondResponding to Lance Armstrong’s statement on the Oprah Winfrey show that he owed Greg LeMond and others an apology for his actions over the past dozen years, LeMond has said that any such gesture is worthless unless it is fully genuine.

“If Lance really wants to make an apology, it has to be heartfelt. There has to be true remorse,” the American told VeloNation today. “I didn’t see that on the Oprah show. There was nothing there to show that. He needs to be ready, but I don’t know if he will ever be ready. At the same time, I want to believe the best in people and to think he has got the ability to change. I’m just not sure if he can.”

While the two former professionals initially had a cordial relationship, those dealings deteriorated when LeMond learned that Armstrong was being guided by Dr. Michele Ferrari. The Italian had long been suspected of doping the riders he worked with. LeMond first voiced his concerns back in 2001, saying that if Armstrong was clean, that his victorious return from cancer would represent the greatest comeback in the history of sport, but that if he wasn’t, it would be the greatest fraud.

The statement led to criticism from both Armstrong and also from the Trek bicycle company, which was one of the Texan’s biggest sponsors and a backer of his-then US Postal Service team. LeMond’s own eponymous frame company was owned by Trek at the time and he was forced to issue a retraction.

However as Armstrong’s association with Ferrari continued and further doubts became apparent about his claims to be racing clean, LeMond spoke out again in subsequent years. Trek ultimately dropped his bike brand and there was a lengthy legal battle between the two.

A settlement was ultimately decided, but the LeMond bicycle company ceased to exist.

Armstrong was long believed to be a contributory force to that fallout, with LeMond one of many who suffered in their dealings with him. The now-disqualified Tour winner acknowledged to Winfrey that he had behaved in a bullying manner to many of those who had stood up to him, LeMond included, and told the talk show host that he needed to make things right with his former adversaries.

“We talked about apologies and I told you that I owe a lot of people apologies,” he said during her interview with him. “The obvious ones, the ones we know by name - the Frankies, the Betsies, the Greg LeMonds, the Tyler Hamiltons, the Floyd Landises, the Emma O’Reilly. I owe them apologies, and whenever they are ready I will give them.”

LeMond confirmed that he was told prior to the show that Armstrong did want to get in touch. “Betsy [Andreu, who Armstrong spoke to by phone] said he wanted to call us. But I felt it was not the time right now with the whistleblower case going on [the Qui Tam case launched by Floyd Landis – ed.]

“I said that I felt it was not appropriate for him to call. I wasn’t going to talk before his interview with Oprah as I felt he would then go on there and say that he had ‘talked to Greg’….that he would use that to validate whatever he wanted to say. I believe if you are going to apologise, you do it in person. It has to be genuine.”

Contrition, or crocodile tears?

LeMond admits that he doesn't know what to make of the now-banned Texan at present. “With Armstrong, it doesn’t feel like there is any finality. It is changing day by day. You think there will be a day of reckoning, some remorse, a day to reconcile with the past. But it doesn't feel right to me…I don’t think there is honesty or sincerity.

Greg LeMond“I don’t know what he is doing or what the reasons are...maybe it is legal or something, I don’t know. This all seems planned to limit his damages or the criminal action that he is facing.”

What is clear is that LeMond and his family have been very affected over the years. The clash has exacted a heavy price. “I know what he did to me, it would blow most people’s minds. This is not the money, it is the stress, it is rumours, it is the damage to my brand and my reputation,” he said. “The harm is not so much from an ego point of view – it’s the case that cycling was my life, I loved the sport, I had bikes I loved, and also designing new products. But there was a group effort to shut me out.

“If anything was to come of this, I would love to hear him give me more insight on stuff that I feel I have figured out [about the fallout with Trek – ed.]

Questioning the answers:

LeMond’s questioning of Armstrong’s motives is by no means isolated to him alone. Many others have also raised doubts about the Winfrey performance, with USADA CEO Travis Tygart and WADA director general David Howman both saying that some of his claims on the show were not accurate.

Tygart has said that his insistence that he raced clean in 2009 and 2010 is a false one, and also that Armstrong lied about other matters, including his denial that one of his close associates tried to offer USADA a very considerable sum of money in 2004.

LeMond told VeloNation that if Armstrong wants to truly make amends, that he has to speak openly and honestly. “If he is coming clean to try to help the sport, he has to say what he has done and who helped him to do it,” he said. “My hope is that if he could do anything to help, that he would shed light on the UCI. But I don’t see that happening.

“USADA has to be involved if he is genuine about telling the truth. Yet there is all this legal manoeuvring going on…nothing is straightforward with Armstrong.”


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