Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong interjected himself into the sport's biggest event again, claiming to a French newspaper that "it's impossible to win the Tour de France without doping" on the eve of the race.
Armstrong made the comments to LeMonde on Friday as the Tour de France prepared for its 100th race, reported Agence France Presse.
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"It's impossible to win the Tour de France without doping because the Tour is an endurance event where oxygen is decisive," LeMonde quoted Armstrong
as saying, according to AFP. "To take one example, EPO (erythropoetin) will not help a sprinter to win a 100m but it will be decisive for a 10,000m runner. It's obvious."
Armstrong won the Tour de France a record seven times between 1999 and 2005, but was stripped of all the titles and professionally banned from the sport after a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report accused him of being a longtime doper.
Tour de France 2011 winner Cadel Evans bristled at Armstrong's claim to AFP
, telling reporter Andy Scott he is proof that Armstrong's statements are false.
"I think the opposite. I am proof that that is not true," Evans, an Australian rider, told a news conference in Porto-Vecchio, on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, according to AFP.
"I sometimes read in the press what Armstrong says and I respect him as a human being but really I just focus on doing my own job as best I can and fortunately we are supported by a great group of people. We try to do our job as we see fit and within the rules of course."
Bernard Hinault, a five-time Tour de France winner, disagreed with Armstrong as well, saying that the former tour winner is trying to paint all riders as "thugs and druggies."
"It depresses me to hear all this," AFP quoted Hinault as saying in an interview with BFM TV. "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."
During his Tour de France winning streak and years afterward, Armstrong strongly denied using performance-enhancing drugs. After the doping agency report, Armstrong confessed in a nationally televised interview to Oprah Winfrey
in January that he used drug in all of his tour victories.
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