In an eyebrow-raising interview with Golf Digest, the Texan, apparently speaking without irony, said the sport adhered to a code of honour that simply did not exist in cycling, at least during his era.
But he insisted that that was what he loved most about it. “Golf is different from the culture of cycling when I was competing, and that’s putting it mildly,” Armstrong said. “Cycling, it was the Wild West. Nobody considered doping cheating. It was an arms race where absolutely anything went, and it was every man for himself.
Armstrong’s comments have already prompted a hail of ‘irony is dead’ style posts on social media, while others noted the fact that he only said he would only be heartbroken if he was caught.
The rider did have some interesting observations to make in the interview, including that in his view Tiger Woods had been punished too severely for his indiscretions. Woods, he said, was the victim of a changing media which was “no longer compliant to athletes and celebrities” but was more concerned “with the scoop”.
Armstrong also likened the riding style of Britain’s 2013 Tour de France champion Chris Froome with the famously unconventional golf swing of Jim Furyk.
“He’s got a choppy pedal stroke,” Armstrong said of Froome. “His arms are sticking out, his head is down, and he’s all over the bike. He’s the Jim Furyk of cycling, unconventional in every way. Except that it works. And the reason it works is superior cadence. His tempo is amazing. It’s paced in a way that gives his unusual mechanics time to fall together. The golf swing can be the same way.”
Armstrong took a number of different drugs during a career in which he earned hundreds of millions of dollars before eventually being found guilty by the United States Anti-Doping Agency of being part of the “most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme” that sport had ever known.
The American concluded by saying how important it was to take pride in the way you finished your round.