Don’t cry for me, a defiant Armstrong tells his fans
LOS ANGELES - Reuters
Armstrong negotiates the final turn on the way to second place in the Power of Four at the base of Aspen Mountain. AP photoLance Armstrong was back on his bike over the weekend, urging his supporters not to “cry” for him a day after the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) decision to strip his seven Tour de France titles and ban him for life.
In his first public appearance since announcing he would no longer fight doping charges brought by USADA, Armstrong finished second in a 36-mile mountain bike race on Aug. 25 in Aspen, Colorado, five minutes behind a 16-year-old rider, Keegan Swirbul.
Wearing sunglasses and black and gold riding gear adorned with sponsors’ logos, Armstrong appeared unfussed by the media throng that had travelled to the mountain resort amid concerns his legacy has been irrevocably tarnished.
“Nobody needs to cry for me. I’m going to be great,” Armstrong told reporters. “I have five great kids and a wonderful lady in my life. My foundation is unaffected by all the noise out there.
“I think people understand that we’ve got a lot of stuff to do going forward. That’s what I’m focused on and I think people are supportive of that. It’s great to be out here,” he said.
Despite giving up the fight against the charges, Armstrong has maintained his innocence and railed against what he says is an unfair witch-hunt.
The Texas-born cyclist, who famously beat cancer and whose foundation Livestrong has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in the fight against the disease, has retained major sponsors and enjoyed the backing of many key cycling figures.
Others, including WADA chief John Fahey, say his failure to contest his charges can only mean he is a drug cheat who has defrauded the cycling tour, his rivals and millions of sports fans for over a decade.
Donations to Armstrong’s foundation on Aug. 24 were up more than 20 times their daily average, Livestrong staff said, and Armstrong received positive crowd support in Colorado.
“The people like the people who are standing around here or on the course, they voiced their opinion in the last 48 hours and are going to support us,” Armstrong said, adding that the future of cycling was in good shape.
“There are a lot of good young guys. Cycling is going to be fine.”