It's a whole new Lance! A "nothing left to lose" Lance. An "I'm a scoundrel, like all the rest" Lance. An "I don't need or want your fucking love" Lance. And he's here to drop some truth bombs.
Armstrong gave an interview to French daily Le Monde, which is noteworthy in and of itself: the paper was one of his most dogged pursuers, and first broke the news in 1999 that he had failed a urine test during his first Tour de France victory. But a lot has changed since then. Armstrong has been stripped of his titles, been banned for life, cried to Oprah, and was abandoned by Livestrong.
In a week that's already seen Tour winner Jan Ullrich admit to doping and former French star Laurent Jalabert accused of EPO use, Armstrong's comments come just a day before the start of the Tour de France's 100th edition.
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. To take an example from athletics, EPO isn't going to help a sprinter win a 100m race, but it would be a determining factor in a 10,000m race. It's clear."
"I didn't invent doping. And it didn't stop when I stopped. I simply participated in a system. I am a human being. Doping has existed since antiquity and will always carry on."
(This is already causing controversy, but for its tense rather than its content. It's unclear whether Armstrong was saying doping was a prerequisite only in his era, or whether he believes that still holds today. The question, and Armstrong's first sentence seem to indicate the former; everything after that is in the present tense. Cycling fans are already accusing Le Monde of taking the quote out of context.)
Armstong accused the USADA's investigation of being personally motivated, and repeated his calls for a "truth and reconciliation" commission that would offer cyclists amnesty in exchange for revealing the full extent of the sport's problems.
"The whole story hasn't been told. The USADA reasoned decision didn't give a full picture of what was going on in cycling from the end of the 1980s to the present day. It succeeded in ruining one man's life, but it didn't do any good in terms of benefitting cycling. What would I say to a commission like that? I'd sit down, I'd listen and I'd give honest answers to questions."
Armstrong was asked what he does these days, now that cycling is closed to him and he's a social pariah:
"I get up, I drink coffee, I read the paper, I have breakfast, I go out on my bike and train. I come home, I have lunch with the kids, then I spend the rest of the day in meetings, playing golf or in the park with the kids. And about 5 p.m., I open a nice cold beer and I think."