Lance Armstrong doping scandal has made life difficult for cyclists, says Jens Voigt
German cyclist Jens Voigt, who’s won the Critérium International a record-tying five times and worn the yellow jersey twice in individual stages of the Tour de France, was in Delhi last week for the India launch of Trek Bicycle, for whom he is the brand ambassador.
In an exclusive interview, he spoke to us about how even after 5 years people still talk about the biggest controversy to have hit the world of cycling- Lance Armstrong’s confession to using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PFA) and Voigt also tells us in a nutshell what the Tour de France experience is like.
Did you know that Lance was taking PFAs even before he admitted to it on Oprah Winfrey’s show? What did you think about the whole issue?
Voigt: Umm, so see..like most things in life it’s never just black and white. Lance did ask me twice to join his team and both times I told him, “No Lance, I don’t feel good about this.”
I didn’t know what it is but I just said no. Imagine there is a journalist colleague who sits right next to you- you do the same job and earn the same money. Suddenly next year he buys a helicopter, a Porsche and a Ferrari- and he’s still doing the same job as you. That’s how I felt.
During some races I would beat Lance by 5 seconds..10 seconds- in March. In May I would lose to him by 2 minutes.In June I would lose to him by 15 minutes every day. And I was like, “No..no..that is just stupid.”
On the other side, we respect each other for our work…Lance did work hard…Lance did take the Tour de France seriously. For Lance the Tour de France started the day after Christmas, he focused on the Tour de France for 8 months before it started.
We spoke about the kids and we did respect each other. And in a completely different world I believe we probably would have become friends and but not in this world, not in this situation.
So even though I did respect Lance and he was a hard working person, he made mistakes and there need to be consequences and punishment for that.
It did make all of our lives difficult. We’re still talking about it 6 years later, and it had made things complicated. Of course, he did help to make cycling more globally known.
Especially after the whole testicular cancer thing.
Voigt: I mean his story was just larger than life! He basically came back from the brink of death to become the biggest athlete the world has ever seen.
And then he breaks down half of what he built up.
And personally, what is your experience regarding the Tour de France?
It is an adventure beyond belief. There are 22 teams with 9 bikers in each team, which is a total of 198 bike riders. Every night the Tour de France needs 3,500 beds and every these 3500 people are moved to a different place- that is the number of people working on the Tour.
In some cities we double the population when we go there! We have about 1,500 journalists and we all end up seeing some beautiful places in France.
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