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Two champions

Armstrong surprised, upset by LeMond's comments

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Posted: Thursday August 02, 2001 4:33 PM
Updated: Thursday August 02, 2001 10:55 PM

  Lance Armstrong He said what? Lance Armstrong was baffled by Greg LeMond's comments about his association with an Italian doctor. AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Lance Armstrong said Thursday he was upset by remarks from fellow American Tour de France champion Greg LeMond regarding Armstrong's association with an Italian doctor linked to drug use in sports.

Armstrong said he had spoken to LeMond, the only other American to win cycling's most prestigious event three times and the first American to win it at all, about comments LeMond made earlier this week on Armstrong's relationship with physician Michele Ferrari.

LeMond had told the Guardian, a London newspaper, "In the light of Lance's relationship with Ferrari, I just don't want to comment on this year's Tour. This is not sour grapes. I'm just disappointed in Lance."

Armstrong has defended his ties to Ferrari, whose name has been linked to the drug EPO. However, Armstrong said he would "re-evaluate" his relationship if the physician is found guilty of wrongdoing in a drug inquiry under way in Italy.

"I was upset, I was surprised more than anything," Armstrong said of LeMond's remarks. He said he considered LeMond a cycling pioneer.

Armstrong has never tested positive for any banned substances and said Ferrari has never discussed any drugs with him. He said he told LeMond, "Greg, you're one of my heroes and I wouldn't be here without you and I was surprised to see that."
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Armstrong said LeMond didn't apologize for the remarks.

A call to LeMond's agent, Mary Haigh, was not immediately returned on Thursday.

Armstrong made his comments during a two-day media tour in New York, just days after winning his third consecutive Tour de France. He had appeared on David Letterman and at a Yankees-Rangers game on Wednesday, and at a U.S. Postal Services office with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani earlier on Thursday. He was due in Washington on Friday to meet with President Bush.

He also spent some of Thursday on a bicycle, taking an impromptu trip through Central Park.

Armstrong said he was already looking forward to next year, but would make no predictions about winning more Tours, or if he would attempt to match or break the record of five championships.

"I hope I can be smart enough and intelligent enough to walk away when it's time, and I hope I can say a record or number of victories won't motivate my decision to keep forcing something that doesn't want to be forced," he said.

Of course, the desire to race is not forced now, and Armstrong said he wasn't really entertaining any thoughts of doing something other than cycling.

Away from his bike, Armstrong and his wife are expecting twin girls in December, and he said he and the family would be spending more time in Austin, Texas, preparing for that.

But in discussing LeMond's comments, Armstrong said that when he did stop racing, "I want to be the guy when I'm done I don't want to have any bitterness toward the sport, I don't want to have any bitterness toward the new generation. ... I hope I have the class to do that."

Asked if he though LeMond was bitter, Armstrong replied, "I don't know."


 
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