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Should We Still Be Listening to Lance Armstrong?

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In his first interview since admitting to doping throughout his career on Oprah, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong came out fighting in a exclusive conversation with our sister site Cyclingnews.com. The former seven-time Tour de France winner calls UCI president Pat McQuaid "pathetic", and confirms that he believes he has been made a fall guy for cycling's doping culture.

The interview has rightly been making headlines across the media, but do those who argue that Armstrong has given up his right to a voice, that the sport should no longer be interested in what he has to say, have a point? The man he attacked, Pat McQuaid, said on rescinding Armstrong's titles and confirming his lifetime ban that "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling". But is that at all realistic?

After all, Armstrong is right to say that, though he may be "the eye of the storm" - one might better describe him as king of a mountain of rubble - the story of doping in cycling is not at all about "one man, one team". Indeed, as Armstrong again points out - and as the trial of Eufamiano Fuentes in Madrid, where he has admitted working with athletes, tennis players, footballers and boxers, makes clear - this is an issue that goes wider than just cycling and into "ALL endurance sports".

And if the World Anti Doping Agency and the UCI can get beyond what Armstrong describes as "this current state of chaos and petty bulls**t, tit for tat, etc" and find common ground to launch an all-encompassing 'truth and reconciliation' process, then Armstrong's offer to be the first man through the door should be snapped up.

Let's face it, what incentive is there really for someone who has got away with doping throughout their sporting career to come forward to such a commission? Even with the threat of sporting sanction removed, they still stand to lose their reputation and place in the hearts of their public.

No, the community with nothing left to lose and perhaps something to gain from such a process is those who have been caught. Until now, they have often been better served by telling a limited version of the truth, waiting out their ban and then getting back to work with the same people they refused to rat out. Given complete amnesty, and with that amnesty extended to anyone they may name, more and more people can be brought into the process and we can begin to get to the bottom of just how wide-ranging the business of cheating has been and still is.

Sure, Armstrong has his own agenda, but so does everybody in this story. There is much truth in Armstrong's assertion to Oprah that had he not made his 2009 comeback he would have got away with everything. Anyone who wants to know how cycling - and sport - got to the point where such mass-scale cheating went ignored for so long needs to listen to Lance Armstrong. You don't need to like him, but you do need to listen.

• Issue 40 of Cycling News HD is out now. In addition to carrying the exclusive Lance Armstrong interview, we also talk to NetApp-Endura's Russell Downing, wrap up all the action from the Tour Down Under and the Tour de San Luis and look forward to the sprinters' desert battle at the Tour of Qatar.

From the makers of Cyclingnews.com, the world centre of cycling, Cycling News HD is delivered to your iPad every Wednesday, and brings you the best all-new cycling photography in the world via the best medium for viewing it, as well as reports, results and exclusive analysis of all the week's biggest races, in-depth previews of the races and stages to watch in the week ahead, interviews, news and opinion.