Süddeutsche Zeitung: LeMon why are you playing golf in Ireland instead of going to the Tour de France?
LeMond: I was about to go on the first resting day, to team Garmin for a training program I developed. But had I gone, everyone would have hounded me with questions me about Armstrong and doping. And I didn't need to be the center of attention there.
Süddeutsche: Would you have been welcomed at the Tour?
LeMond: Probably not now. So many things have changed in the management of the Tour In the past couple of years. They really are looking to distance themselves from the past with the Puerto Affair in 2006. I went to the Tour in 2007 with my son and saw how much they tried distancing themselves from that scandal. In the meantime however, the reality is something totally different to the tme as Patrice Clerc was still there
SÜddetusche: the former president of the Tour host ASO, someone who is critical of Lance Armstrong.
LeMond: at that time I was working with the Tour. When Armstrong announced his return to the sport in the fall of 2008, Patrice had to leave his job at the exact same time. Clerc was fired and Armstrong in a way, rehired. And he wasn't really gone. He came under so much pressure in 2005 because of his samples from 1999 testing positive for Epo. So he took a break. All part of the show.
Süddeutsche: Your probably also not welcome because you have positioned yourself as one of the few opponents of Armstrong along with Clerc.
LeMond: Yes, but I still continue to speak about those things about which they don't want to speak. The consequence is that my head has been aching for the past 9 years.
Süddeutsche: Because of Armstrong?
LeMond: Yes, it all begain in 2001, as I commented on my collaboration with Michele Ferrari (convicted Italian doping doctor, with whom Armstrong only worked with during training. At that moment, he rushed into my life.
Süddeutsche: He called you, you said back then.
LeMond: Yes and he said, he would dig up ten people to prive that I had also taken Epo - this episode like all the others, has since become well known. But since then he (Armstrong) suddenly was influencing my life, influencing my fitness company in Montana, my bike company Trek, who he advertises for, broke of all ties to me. He just tries to dominate others. Just like he used to due in the races.
Süddeutsche: He's finally quitting for good now.
LeMond: Although he said two months ago, he would love to ride a few more years. The investigation in the USA after Floyd Landis's statements must be putting him under pressure. It's time he went. He and his people were in my opinion the worst thing that could ever happen to cycling. But it's strange how strong the efforts are to keep his story alive.
Süddeutsche: You mean the A.S.O., which is celebrating him again and the world organization UCI?
LeMond: Yes against so few other riders has there been so much proof and evidence as against Armstrong. Jan Ullrich for example or others had to leave the sport because of the Operation Puerto Affair. But at the end of the day, the evidence and proof against these riders was a lot less than that against Armstring. If he had been a normal rider, and not a cancer survivor surrounded by a PR machine, he would have long been forced out.
Süddeutsche: What do you mean "machine"?
LeMond: His people. I still recall going to the Tour presentation in 2003. I really was ready to bury the hatchet with him since the Tour was celebrating its 100th anniversary. I went and Armstrong was supposed to go on stage with me. Then he came - 30 minutes late of course. he spoke to his manager who spoke to Jean-Marie Leblanc, the Tour head at that time, they turned to me and at one point, someon asked me if I didn't mind going on stage alone. and not with Armstrong.
Süddeutsche: Armonstrong dictated how the sport of cycling had to do things all the years-
LeMond: yes he had them all in the palm of his hand, the organizers/supervisors, the entire orgnaziation behin them. And he still does. It's not just his character that is so controversial, he submitted positive samples, like in 1999...
Süddeutsche: ...which the UCI die not pursue after his comeback ...
LeMond: Yes or the fact that strange things were found in the trash of his teams like last year after the Tour or as in 2000. Now Landis is coming forward about his time with the US POstal team. But: cycling is keeping silent. That is the reality which is why I no longer believe things will change in our sport.
Süddeutsche: YOu have absolutely no hope?
LeMond: Not without completely cleaning house, starting with UCI. They have to go, its management has to go. I don't know if should use the comparison, but it reminds me of the Catholic Church and the victims of abuse. They ahd to replace the heads there since they all had knowledge of the goings-on and did nothing to prevent the abuse. The same with cycling: Everyone was a part of the dirty game and no one said. "Let's clean house" Of course cycling will survive this latest scandal, but seriously, with pride? No the only thing that matters is the business (of making money).
Süddeutsche: There's a saying in German, The fish stinks from the head.
Le Mond: Very good expression. Just like the financial crisis scandal, where there was no transparency through the boards. In cycling it is the umbrella organization, it doesn't want to change anything. The UCI talks and talks. For all I care, the UCI can continue to exist as it is, as long as they would be willing to hand over responsibility for doping tests to someone else. Why do they conduct them themselves?
Süddeutsche: Because they want to keep the control over their sport.
LeMond: Exactly, control. There is no other reason. Everywhere in sports the fight continues to be waged to retain control. The UCI should just promot the sport and leave the rest to independent organizations. And they should finally start supporting investigations. Landis accuses Armstrong and what does the UCI do? They call Landis crazy and recommend he see a psychiatrist. That is ridiculous.
Süddeutsche: The might just feel obligated to Armstrong, the UCI admitted to accepting donations from him of $125,000-
LeMond: He himself spoke a few years ago about $20,000 the man who remembers every dollar? It's not just $125,000 - apparently it's more around $500,000 as I've heard going back to as early as 2000.