Lance Armstrong: Probe has no effect

SYDNEY -- Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong says he is not affected on a daily basis by an ongoing U.S. federal investigation into drug use by cyclists.

In an interview in Thursday's Sydney Morning Herald -- his first newspaper interview since July -- Armstrong spoke of problems affecting cycling but would not elaborate on the Food and Drug Administration investigation.

A grand jury in Los Angeles has been hearing evidence for months in closed sessions.

Asked about the hearings, which were prompted by allegations from disgraced American cyclist Floyd Landis, Armstrong told the Herald, "I don't let it affect me."

"I have five kids to raise," he said. "I have a foundation to help run and lead. I still have, theoretically, a job -- I ride my bike and train every day. It has no effect in what I do on a daily basis."

In the wide-ranging Herald interview, Armstrong talks about problems facing cycling, his recent visit to American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his concern for victims of flooding in Australia's Queensland and New South Wales states.

The interview precedes Armstrong's appearance in the Jan. 16-23 Tour Down Under in South Australia, which is likely to be his last international race. He probably will compete in the Tour of California next month before concentrating on his preparation for October's Hawaii Ironman.

Armstrong expressed concern for the state of cycling and for the future of a sport given to scandal, recrimination and bitter public debate.

"It's a long, long conversation that would take many, many beers to try and scratch the surface on," he said.

"But it's at a sensitive state right now. Other sports have a done a good job ignoring whatever issue they may or may not have or dealing with it internally, or dealing with it through a players' union or teams' union or governing body.

"Our [issues] most of the time play out in the public eye, [with] people popping off in the press. As long as that kind of anarchy exists we'll never move forward."

Armstrong said it was easy for people to use the International Cycling Union as a "whipping boy."

"To me there is total lack of solidarity or unity when it comes to the athlete and the team," he said. "Whether it's entry to races, or race radios, there will still be issues.

"You can never come to a consensus, which is fine. But some of it should be dealt with behind closed doors ... among the teams, among the riders who [must] come to a solution that should be the approach they move forward with. But it's not. People walk out of these meetings and immediately ... start popping off."

Armstrong said it was now too late for him to effect positive change in cycling.

"Being close to 40, those days are done," he said. "Cycling has been great to me. [But] from now on, I ride for fun. I ride for pleasure. I ride for fitness.

"I plan on keeping the ties I have, whether it's the local bike shop, [my] development team or multi-sport stuff that include bikes -- triathlon or mountain bike -- or charity rides I enjoy. That will be my connection."