Lance Armstrong, left, talks to Greg LeMond. (Getty Images)
Lance Armstrong is a criminal who should go to jail, that's what Greg LeMond believes.
The three-time Tour de France winner has never pulled any punches when talking about Armstrong, and a Monday interview on CNN was no exception.
LeMond told Anderson Cooper that Armstrong would have been "top 30 at best" without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs, would not have been capable of a top-5 finish let along winning the Tour de France seven times.
[Photos: Lance Armstrong's fall from grace]
"Absolutely," LeMond said when asked if Armstrong perpetrated the greatest fraud in sports history. "… I know his physical capabilities. He's a top 30 at best. I mean, at best. No matter what. If he was clean and everybody else was clean, he's a top 30 at best. He's not capable of winning the Tour. He's not capable of the top 5."
LeMond, the first American to win the Tour de France and the only one who's still credited with winning cycling's biggest event, has long taken offense to cyclists taking short cuts to win a race he won fair and square. He was among the first high-profile figures in the cycling world to question Armstrong, calling him out way back in 2001 when Armstrong had won three straight tours.
"If Lance is clean, it's the greatest comeback in the history of sports," LeMond said, "if he isn't, it would be the greatest fraud."
Some called sour grapes on LeMond.
But LeMond contends that it was never just about Armstrong, but rather racing clean.
"It wasn't Armstrong," LeMond told Cooper. "If it was a Belgian and I knew this it would have been – I would have had the same opinion."
He went on to say that Armstrong used his story of cancer survival and manipulated the cancer community.
"He used the money, he used the [Livestrong] Foundation to not only cover for him but to destroy people."
This is where LeMond gets animated. It's not just that Armstrong (for a time) supplanted him as the "best American cyclist," but that he tried to "bully" people along the way.
LeMond claims that Armstrong once offered a teammate $300,000 to say LeMond used PEDs. There are other tales of Armstrong's bully tactics. Former teammate Tyler Hamilton says Armstrong once told him he was "going to make [his] life a living hell both in the courtroom and out of the courtroom." Armstrong called Emma O'Reilly, a masseuse for the Postal Service team, a "whore" and sued her for libel after she blew the whistle on him in 2003. And he called Betsy Andreu, wife of former Postal rider Frankie Andreu, "crazy" and "a bitch" when she told the truth.
"He's a bully, he's a thug to me, and I'm the one who wouldn't put up with it," LeMond said Monday.
When asked by Cooper what he thinks should happen now to Armstrong, LeMond replied, "This is not a sporting infraction. This is criminal."
"You think he should go to jail?" Cooper asked.
"I do, yeah," LeMond replied.
- Sports & Recreation
- Greg LeMond
- Lance Armstrong
- Anderson Cooper
- Tour de France