Armstrong laments panel's decision to disregard 'shoddy' lab work

Updated: October 2, 2007, 6:48 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Lance Armstrong believes an American jury surely would have ruled in favor of Floyd Landis, unlike the arbitrators who found him guilty of doping.

The seven-time Tour de France winner lamented the consequences of the panel disregarding "shoddy" lab work in his first public comments about last month's decision to ban Landis for two years and strip him of his 2006 Tour de France title.

"I didn't follow Floyd's case that much, but I will tell you, if that's a jury trial in the United States of America, with eight or 10 or 12 of our fellow citizens, you get off every time. Not that you get off, but you're vindicated," Armstrong told The Associated Press on Tuesday while promoting a new line of Nike apparel that supports his Livestrong campaign to fight cancer.

Armstrong, who has endured doping accusations throughout his career, has criticized the French lab where Landis' tests were conducted.

Although the arbitrators faulted the lab's practices in their ruling and warned that future errors could result in the dismissal of a positive finding, the panel still upheld Landis' positive doping test.

"When you are giving someone the death penalty, which they essentially did, you cannot tolerate shoddy work, which they clearly did," Armstrong said. "I don't understand that type of rationale. I don't understand the verdict.

"It's tough for Floyd; it's tough for cycling. But at the same time, it's also really tough and unfortunate for the fans of all athletes. You never know when you're in that position, when an athlete's in that position, and you want to make sure that everything's done right."

Armstrong conceded that cycling is going through a "tough period."

"But I think all of sport is going through a tough time," he said. "You can look at cycling and say, 'Oh, they're all cheaters.' But you know what? You can look at the New England Patriots and say they're cheaters, too. You can look at the McLaren Formula One team and say they're cheaters."

Last month, McLaren was fined $100 million for spying on rival Ferrari. Meanwhile, the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick were fined and the team lost a draft pick for trying to steal the New York Jets' defensive signals.

"It's top-level sport," Armstrong said of cycling. "There's a lot of money, a lot of pride, a lot of fame on the line. People are going to cut corners. It's the job of the governing bodies and the police and all these agencies to make sure what we're watching is pure and clear."

Armstrong said he hopes the money generated by big-time sports can help his foundation fight cancer. Since 2004, more than 70 million yellow Livestrong wristbands have been sold, and now Nike and Armstrong are expanding the brand to other athletic apparel.

All profits from sales of the shirts, shorts, shoes and other items featuring the familiar yellow and Livestrong logo will go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Armstrong will wear the apparel, available for sale on Jan. 1, while running next month's New York City Marathon.

His experience with the wristband phenomenon made Armstrong confident people will continue to want to share the Livestrong message.

"I'm most proud of the ability to build an army of people," Armstrong said. "People have to decide to go spend a dollar. They have to decide to get on the Internet. They have to decide to wear something. So 70 million people did that.

"A lot of them did it for a reason. Some people probably did it because it was the cool thing to do or whatever. But for the most part I think most people put on the yellow band because they cared about the fight against cancer."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press