In 1999 Lance Armstrong won the Tour De France for the first time after beating cancer. That was the start of one of sport’s greatest and most controversial stories of all time. Here we take a look at the career of Le Boss and find out what he’s doing now.
Armstrong became a professional cyclist at the age of 20 in 1992 when he signed for the Motorola team.
He achieved a handful of notable feats in the next four years which included winning stage 18 of the Tour De France.
Seemingly on course for a prosperous career in cycling, Armstrong was diagnosed with metastatic testicular cancer in 1996.
The diagnosis was not good and the chances of the disease being fatal were considerable.
He survived the ordeal and returned to cycling in 1998 with the US Postal/Discovery team and also founded the Livestrong Foundation to assist other cancer survivors.
“Through my illness I learned rejection,” Armstrong once said.
“I was written off. That was the moment I thought, ‘Okay, game on. No prisoners. Everybody’s going down.’”
From 1999 to 2005 Armstrong won the Tour De France a record seven times in a row. At the time it was quite simply the most remarkable story in sport.
“This is my body, and I can do whatever I want to it,” Amrstrong said in a Nike advertisement that was aired on television in 2001.
“I can push it, study it, tweak it; listen to it. Everybody wants to know what I am on. What am I on? I am on my bike busting my ass six hours a day. What are you on?”
Little did anyone know the storm that was to follow. After retiring in 2005, Armstrong returned to the sport in 2009 and then retired for the second and final time in 2011.
In 2012, a United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) investigation concluded that Armstrong had used performance-enhancing drugs over the course of his career.
He was consequently banned from all sports that the USADA flag is associated with and all his results dating back to 1998 were deemed void.
He has since stated that if racing in 1995 “when doping was completely pervasive, I would probably do it again.”
So what does the disgraced sporting legend spend his time doing today?
At the core of his existence is his defence of the $100 lawsuit against his name which was filed by former U.S. Postal Service (USPS) teammate Floyd Landis.
The USPS paid $32.3 million to sponsor Armstrong’s cycling team from 2000 to 2004 and said it wouldn’t have paid that if it had known the team was violating its sponsorship contract by using banned drugs and blood transfusions to cheat in races.
The government now wants that money back and could have that amount tripled under the under the False Claims Act, with Armstrong possibly on the hook for all of it.
Landis, himself a former doping cheat who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title, stands to receive up to 25 per cent of any damages awarded.
In Armstrong’s defence, his attorneys will argue that the USPS suffered no damages and received far more in value from the sponsorship than the $32.3 million it paid.
The trial is expected to take place in the fall.
That aside, Armstrong splits his time between Texas and Aspen. In Austin he’s the owner of a coffee shop called “Juan Pelota” – the name is a light-hearted reference to his testicular cancer with “Juan” being considered by some a homophone for “one” and “Pelota” being the Spanish word for “ball”.
He also owns a bike shop called “Mellow Johnny’s” – derived from the Tour term “maillot jaune”, which is French for “yellow jersey”.
He and his girlfriend Anna Hansen have two children together; he has three from a previous relationship.
He produces a weekly podcast called The Forward which is well worth following and listening to.
At 45-years-of-age, Amrstrong is also still extremely active. Social Media tells us he competes in a variety of events that are not associated with USADA and still harbours hopes of one day entering events that are under USADA’s flag.
“Would I like to run the Chicago marathon when I’m 50? I would love to do that,” Armstrong said recently.
Down? Yes. Out? No chance.