Lance Armstrong said he's living a positive life unmarred by negativity from detractors and confessed he would still be lying about his doping if he hadn't gotten caught.
While Armstrong is both praised and harangued on social media by fans and foes alike, he said he never gets harassed when he's out in public these days, 18 months after his sensational doping confession.
"In this day and age, there's plenty of outlets for people to hurl the most heinous comments that you can think of, you only have to look at the comments that will be at the bottom of this piece," Lance told CNN Aug. 20. "But day-to-day life is positive. I never get crap, not once, and I'm surprised by that. Sure, I sometimes get the vibe that someone wants to say something, but it's never happened."
Livestrong Makes $50 Million Donation
Armstrong has been thoroughly humbled since his meteoric fall from glory following his high-profile doping scandal. In August 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency stripped Lance of his seven Tour de France titles, which he won from 1999 to 2005. Because all 21 of the top-three finishers during Armstrong's win streak were tied to doping, there is no official winner for the years Lance won the Tour.
Shortly afterward, Lance was forced to step down from Livestrong, the cancer foundation he founded in 1997 after surviving stage four testicular cancer. On Aug. 19, Livestrong made headlines after making a $50 million donation to establish an cancer unit at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. It is the largest donation Livestrong has made since the cancer organization cut ties with Lance.
In January 2013, Armstrong confessed to Oprah Winfrey in a candid interview that he had doped during much of his career. Lance revealed that he had started taking performance-enhancing drugs in the mid-1990s and had used testosterone, EPO and blood transfusions.
Armstrong is still dealing with the public and legal fallout from his doping scandal, but admits he would have continued lying about his doping if he had not gotten caught. "If this stuff hadn't taken place with the federal investigation, I'd probably still be saying 'no' with the same conviction and tone as before," Armstrong confessed. "But that gig is up."
No Deliberate Campaign to Clean Up Image
Lance, who had hoped to compete in triathlons after retiring from cycling, is now banned from all athletic competitions. While many had expected him to launch a major PR campaign to rebuild his tarnished image, Armstrong insists there is no calculation behind his media interviews.
"I know at times it looks like it, but there's no PR campaign," he said. "There's not a big study room where we're bouncing off ideas saying, 'Let's do Esquire, let's talk to [CNN].' I'm just flying by the seat of my pants."
Lance, who won his first triathlon at the age of 13, stunned the sports world in 2009 when he announced that he would come out of retirement to race for an unprecedented eighth Tour de France title. Armstrong's implausible comeback from cancer patient to Tour de France champion was one of the most inspiring stories in all of sports.
The Texas-born cycling legend, who was diagnosed with stage four testicular cancer in 1996, rebounded from the disease to win an unprecedented seven consecutive Tour de France titles. Ironically, had he not come out of retirement in 2009, his doping would have remained secret.
Armstrong, who wrote two bestselling books detailing his humble childhood and cancer battle ("It's Not About the Bike" and "Every Second Counts"), said he wants to write a third book soon to come clean about his doping and all that has transpired since his fall from grace.
"I need to write a book and it needs to be pretty raw," he said. "The book needs to be pretty intense and transparent. I need to put it out there and let it sit. The sooner the better. It has to be the right book, the right tone and there has to be totally no bullsh*t."