On some level, the cycling world hasn't seen its last of Lance Armstrong. The 41-year-old announced that he's racing for the first time since he confessed to doping during an Oprah Winfrey interview in January.
Although he is banned for life from competing in cycling competitions, the athlete is will participate in The Des Moines Register newspaper's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa in July. "We are open to anyone that wants to come ride RAGBRAI," race director T.J. Juskiewicz told the paper.
Of his decision to participate, Armstrong told the newspaper that he's realistic about his critics. "I'm well aware my presence is not an easy topic, and so I encourage people if they want to give a high-five, great," he said. "If you want to shoot me the bird, that's OK too … I’m a big boy, and so I made the bed, I get to sleep in it."
The cancer survivor added that he has no other intentions but return to the sport that he loves. "To be honest it's not a statement, it's not an experiment," the iconic cyclist explained. "It's just me wanting to go ride my bike with what in the past has been a friendly group of people that share the same interests."
The star, who was stripped of his seven consecutive Tour de France wins by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and was dropped by multiple endorsements because of the doping scandal, said that as a "realist," he's concentrating on moving forward.
"[I'm] just a dude like everybody who likes to ride bikes and likes to drink beer and has made his fair share of mistakes — and that's that," he said.
Speaking about the reported $135 million in liabilities he faces from lawsuits filed after his confession, Armstrong said that he's committed "to working through them."
"Whether it's settling cases or whether it's fighting some cases — because some have merit, some don't," he told the paper. "But I'm committed to the process and that's probably as much as I would and could say about it. That's a tricky area there … unless you have $135 million you want to let me borrow, or have?"
During his sit down with Oprah in January, the dad of five (he has three with first wife Kristin Richard; two with current wife Anna Hansen), said it was his 12-year-old son, Luke, who inspired him to come clean about his doping past.
"I saw my son defending me and saying, 'That's not true. What you're saying about my dad is not true,'" Armstrong recalled. "That's when I knew I had to tell him."
"I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times," he added. "I know the truth. The truth isn't what was out there. The truth isn't what I said … I'm a flawed character, as I well know. All the fault and all the blame here falls on me."
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