"Riders and teams owners have been forthright in saying that it is possible to win clean — and I agree with them."
After Armstrong retired for the first time in 2005, cycling pioneered a so-called "biological passport" program, introduced in 2008, that monitors riders' blood readings for tell-tale signs of doping. Riders in the top tier of teams were tested an average of nearly 12 times in 2012. Yet the pre-Tour drip-drip-drip of doping confessions and revelations about the Armstrong era have overshadowed cycling's work to break its culture of drug use.
That, in turn, has led to renewed appeals from some involved in the sport for cycling to have a "truth and reconciliation" process — where all those involved in doping past and present could air what they know and did once and for all, so cycling can then move forward.
"Having it come out in dribs and drabs: You know, Laurent Jalabert this week, this guy (another week) — is ridiculous and painful and unnecessary," Jonathan Vaughters, a former Armstrong teammate and manager of the Garmin-Sharp team, said this week before Le Monde's interview. "I really wish that we could get on with the truth and reconciliation committee. ... Let's just move the sport forward, let's get it out, let's deal with it, let's recognize it, let's own it, let's learn from it."
Armstrong told Le Monde he would be prepared to appear before such a committee.
"The whole story has still not been told," he was quoted as saying. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation that unmasked him as a serial doper "did not paint a faithful picture of cycling from the end of the 1980s to today. It succeeded perfectly in destroying one man's life but did not benefit cycling at all."
He argued that doping would never be eradicated.
"I did not invent doping," Le Monde quoted Armstrong as saying. "And nor did it end with me."