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Given same choices, Armstrong says he’d likely cheat again

"It was a bad decision and an imperfect time," Armstrong says. He also wants reduced ban and to have his Tour wins restored in records

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LONDON (AFP) — Lance Armstrong has said he would take banned substances again if faced with the same circumstances that saw him dope in 1995.

In an interview with the BBC on Monday, the American said it was not possible to win cleanly when he was dominating the Tour de France with a record seven wins from 1999 to 2005 but that the race could now be won by a ‘clean’ rider.

Asked, if he would cheat again, Armstrong said, “If I was racing in 2015, no, I wouldn’t do it again because I don’t think you have to.

“If you take me back to 1995, when doping was completely pervasive, I would probably do it again.”

Armstrong, who insisted he was clean when he came out of retirement in 2009 and 2010 — contrary to USADA’s report — added: “When I made the decision, when my team made that decision, when the whole peloton made that decision, it was a bad decision and an imperfect time.

“But it happened. And I know what happened because of that. I know what happened to the sport, I saw its growth.”

Armstrong, 43, was stripped of his Tour titles and given a lifetime ban from cycling by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in 2012, having denied for years he was a cheat.

The cancer survivor eventually made a public confession in a television interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2013.

On Monday, he also said he deserved a reduction in his ban after twice speaking to the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC, a campaign group looking to clean up the sport).

He was also keen to see his Tour titles be restored, with Armstrong saying the absence of a winner was equivalent to the years when the race wasn’t run because of the first and second World Wars.

He added that good had come from his participation in the sport, saying Trek Bicycles, his supplier, had increase sales from $100 million to $1 billion as the story of how he overcame cancer to again become a champion racer brought new fans into cycling, while his charity foundation, Livestrong, was able to raise $500 million.

“Do we want to take it away?” he said. “I don’t think anybody says ‘yes.'”

As for the Tour de France titles now erased from the record books, Armstrong said: “I think there has to be a winner, I’m just saying that as a fan.

“There’s a huge block in World War One with no winners, and there’s another block in World War Two, and then it seems like there’s another world war.

“I don’t think history is stupid, history rectifies a lot of things. If you ask me what happens in 50 years, I don’t think it sits empty… I feel like I won those Tours,” Armstrong added.