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Cycling fans reflect on Armstrong allegations -

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Cycling fans reflect on Armstrong allegations
Tom Nightingale reported this story on Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:14:00

ASHLEY HALL: Lance Armstrong was seen by many as the best cyclist ever, and one of the world's most famous athletes.

That's partly due to his work raising awareness of cancer, after suffering the disease himself and recovering to win a record seven Tours de France titles.

He was a hero to many and although reactions to the case vary, few people have been surprised by the evidence.

Tom Nightingale reports.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: The new evidence against Lance Armstrong was a hot topic at cycle shops in central Sydney this morning.

One store worker, Lana, says it wasn't a shock

LANA: I always had had hopes that all the allegations were actually untrue, so now that everything's sort of, has come out in the open; I liken it to being told that Santa Claus isn't real.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: But cycle courier Andrew McPherson says Armstrong is being unfairly singled out.

ANDREW MCPHERSON: Pretty much the whole crew are on performance-enhancing drugs anyway so that's what they've got to do to compete at that level. I think he still won those races.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: Another shop worker, Tom, says the saga won't affect his passion for cycling.

TOM: Anyone who rides understands the joy of riding for what it is, the feeling of the wind against you and the challenge and the learning you go through as you up some pretty big hills.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: Lance Armstrong's life story could be described as too incredible to make up.

He grew up in Texas and won races and some stages of the Tour de France and competed in the Atlanta Olympics as one of the world's top cyclists.

Then in severe pain he was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain.

LANCE ARMSTRONG: They showed me the ultrasounds and the other X-rays and said we had a problem. I was in denial, I thought this can't be because I'm 25 years old, I'm one of the best in my sport, and why would I have cancer?

TOM NIGHTINGALE: He was given a less than 50/50 chance of surviving - but he did, and returned to elite cycling.

CYCLING COMMENTATOR (2005): Forty-six seconds, a stunning victory, a stunning ride from a special athlete. Lance Armstrong demonstrates...

TOM NIGHTINGALE: Armstrong won more Tours de France than anyone else and became far bigger than the sport itself.

LANCE ARMSTRONG: As a sportsman, I wanted to go out on top and so that was the only incentive and the only pressure.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: Then he retired, only to come back a second time and finish third in the Tour de France in 2009.

It was after this time that rumours of doping started to gain momentum, as former team mates emerged with allegations that Armstrong consistently denied.

But the mud has stuck and this year he dropped his fight against the US Anti-Doping Authority accusing him of drug cheating.

World Anti-Doping Agency boss John Fahey said it was a decisive move.

JOHN FAHEY: By his failure to rebut the charges, very serious charges, he has effectively admitted that they have substance.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: But Armstrong remained defiant.

LANCE ARMSTRONG: I thought in light of recent events I might reintroduce myself. My name is Lance Armstrong. I won the Tour de France seven times.


TOM NIGHTINGALE: Today Lance Armstrong hasn't commented on the evidence against him being made public but a few years ago when he retired for the first time, he said he wouldn't change a thing.

LANCE ARMSTRONG (2005): I've had an unbelievable career, I've been blessed to ride 14 years as a professional. I've been blessed to win some big bike races before my illness and to win the Tour seven times after the illness. I've been blessed with financial reward that I never thought was going to be possible and makes my life and my children's life very comfortable now.

There is no reason to continue, I don't need more and it's time for a new face, it's time for a new story. No regrets.

ASHLEY HALL: Lance Armstrong, recorded in 2005, ending Tom Nightingale's report.