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Armstrong discusses recent scandals, says 'doping is a global problem'

6/20/2007

RENO, Nev. -- Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance
Armstrong said cycling has suffered a "black eye" from ongoing
disclosures about doping scandals. So have a number of sports, he said, so he doesn't know how it will affect interest in this year's big race.

"Doping is a global problem. It's a sports problem, and it's
never a good thing, either through positive tests or admissions,"
Armstrong told reporters during a teleconference.

"It is a black eye, but I suspect that there are a lot of
sports out there with black eyes, and it's just something that we
as a community or global community, sports community, have to work
through," he said.


Armstrong attempted to discredit another effort to portray him as part of the problem. Another book that intertwines the two, "From Lance to Landis," is due in the coming weeks.

"Predictably, on the eve of the Tour de France, I will be the subject of a repeated, baseless attack in yet another unobjective book by David Walsh," Armstrong said in a statement released Wednesday. "Trying to jump on the bandwagon of current publicity surrounding cycling, Walsh now issues a recycled version of two earlier French books that were likewise founded upon a demonstrably false string of sensational, untrue and fabricated allegations.

"This latest attack will be no different than the first two -- a sensationalized attempt to cash in on my name and sully my reputation by people who have demonstrated a consistent failure to adhere to the most basic journalistic standards or ethics."

Armstrong, who has repeatedly denied allegations he used banned
substances, acknowledged television ratings were down last for the
Tour de France but didn't know if it was related to the scandal.

"You saw a drop-off in interest for some reason, really around
the world. So even television numbers in France, Germany, Spain and
Italy and then here in the U.S. [were down] for whatever reason,"
he said.

"So I don't know what will necessarily happen this year,
although I saw that the viewership and the interest in the Tour of
Italy was up significantly amid all this stuff. So it's tough to
say."

Armstrong made his comments late Monday during the
teleconference promoting his cancer-fighting foundation, which will
be the sole beneficiary of charitable contributions at the 18th
annual American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe
July 13-15. He will play in the pro-am tourney on July 12, but not
the three-day competition carried by ESPN and NBC Sports.

Armstrong said he plans to be in London for the start of the
race, return to the U.S. for the golf tourney and other matters,
then will consider returning to France depending how the American
contingent is faring.

"We'll see how the race plays out, and whether or not we go
back to Paris, I don't know," he said.

American Levi Leipheimer is among those with a shot at winning
the race, Armstrong said. He said he was convinced at the beginning
of the season Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan would win the race
but now he's not so sure after Vinokourov failed to live up to
expectations with his showing in the mountains last week at the
Dauphine Libere.

"I think as far as the race goes that it's wide open. It's
really anybody's guess," Armstrong said.

"Before last week the odds were that Vinokourov would be the
winner. I think he had the best chances, but he didn't perform well
in the high mountains, in the Dauphine," he said.

"I don't think our guys were particularly that great there,
either, but I think they're on a good path to be in top form for
the race," he said.

Armstrong will be making his second appearance in the celebrity
golf tourney's pro-am at Lake Tahoe next month. He said he's not
good enough to play in the competition through the weekend,
typically shooting more than 100.

"For somebody who doesn't golf much, it's not that fun to tee
off in front of a group of people," he said.

"I'm a big believer in mulligans. I'll use as many as they give
me," he said.

Armstrong, who overcame testicular cancer in the 1990s to become
the second American to win the Tour de France, said the publicity
for the Lance Armstrong Foundation is invaluable.

The foundation has raised more than $180 million in its 10 years
of existence, he said.

"I'm still humbled by the [money raised]," he said. "We can
be proud of the progress we've made."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.