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Lance Armstrong acknowledges he hasn't been the nicest guy in the world, but he says if he had to do it over again, he would still dope because everyone else in cycling was doping too.
"I knew what my competitors were doing. We [his U.S. Postal Service team] were doing less," Armstrong said in an interview for ESPN The Magazine. "We were more conservative, and that's the reason we were never going to be caught.
"This is a story because I was a bigger a--h---. Because I was more litigious. Because I was more combative. ... And I've heard from a lot of people who say, 'You made all the money, you got all the fame, you deserve this.' And I hear that, and I understand that people think that way. But it's not consistent with what USADA has said."
Armstrong felt that he was singled out and ultimately stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles because he fought back so hard against those who accused him of doping.
"If we're going to be honest, then just say, 'He's an a--h---. We had to go after him. He tested positive for being the biggest a--h--- in the world.' Fair. I can live with that," Armstrong said. "To say that he cheated his competitors? Ask them! Ask my competitors."
Armstrong said it proved too difficult for him to be cutthroat while racing and then back off when it came to accusations.
"Do I think I made a lot of mistakes? I know I did," Armstrong said. "Do I think I was way too adamant and forceful in the denials? Absolutely. Was I way too aggressive when it came to getting in people's faces or contesting their versions of events? Yes.
"But at the same time, was I singled out? Yes. Only time will tell which aspects of this have been fair and honest. For the first time in my life, I've just got to have real patience, which is not my virtue."
Armstrong added that the part about his downfall that bothers him the most is that he has lost the trust of cancer survivors who looked up to him because he had beaten cancer and become a champion.
"They fought for me," he said. "Whether it's in an online discussion or in a hallway or a workplace or cafe or bar, they had my back. And now they got egg on their face. That's the thing that hurts me the most and the thing I'll spend the rest of my life trying to make up for."