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Lance Armstrong: Winning Tour de France was 'impossible' without doping

Lance Armstrong told Le Monde magazine. (Getty Images) Lance Armstrong told Le Monde he still considers himself the Tour de France record-holder. (Getty Images)

Lance Armstrong told a French newspaper he could not have won the Tour de France without doping.

Armstong surprisingly granted an interview to Le Monde, the French daily publication that he accused of persecuting him after first reporting corticosteroids were found in his urine while riding to his first Tour de France win in 1999.

From USA Today:

"When you raced, was it possible to perform without doping?"

"That depends on which races you wanted to win. The Tour de France? No. Impossible to win without doping. Because the Tour is a test of endurance where oxygen is decisive," Le Monde quoted Armstrong as saying. The interview is published in French.

Armstrong also said he still considers himself the record-holder for Tour wins, despite having those titles stripped from him last year for doping, and that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation that exposed his steroids use had ruined his life.

SI PHOTOS: Behind the scenes with Lance Armstrong

Armstrong's comments were not well received by cycling and race representatives as the Tour celebrates its 100th year.

From USA Today:

UCI President Pat McQuaid called the timing of Armstrong's comments "very sad."

"I can tell him categorically that he is wrong. His comments do absolutely nothing to help cycling," McQuaid said in a statement. "The culture within cycling has changed since the Armstrong era and it is now possible to race and win clean."

"Riders and teams owners have been forthright in saying that it is possible to win clean - and I agree with them."

The Tour and cycling recently suffered more negative news tying noted cyclists with doping. Armstrong's former rival, 1997 Tour winner Jan Ullrich, admitted to blood-doping for the first time. Reports out of France also revealed evidence of drug use at the 1998 Tour by Laurent Jalabert in a Senate investigation. On Tuesday, a Spanish court announced its investigation of a support network that allegedly aided Armstrong's doping while training in the country from 1999 to 2005.
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