Armstrong Addresses Doping Allegations

Lance Armstrong is best-known for being a seven-time winner of the grueling bike race, the Tour de France, despite a near-deadly bout with cancer.

Recently, he has been the target of doping allegations that continue to dog him even in retirement.

The embattled Armstrong will present the award for the Best Comeback Athlete of the Year at the forthcoming ESPY Awards, which honor top athletes.

Armstrong won Best Male Athlete three times and won Best Comeback Athlete after his first Tour de France victory in 1999.

Armstrong, 35, said he was really too old for cycling and was "pushing the outer limits" by winning at 34.

Last year was his final Tour, a race he once said he had hated because of all the media attention it had attracted.

Armstrong told ABC News he preferred the preparation in the Alps when he was able to bond with his team.

"That builds up to the race," he said on "Good Morning America." "Then, you get to the race, and there are millions of people there -- some on your side, some not -- dealing with the press. … I mean, it became less enjoyable as the years went on."

Tension With the French Media

On Friday, the French daily Le Monde reported that Armstrong, a Texas native, had admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in October 1996 to a doctor who had been treating him for cancer.

Armstrong's attorney and the doctor in question deny that the alleged conversation took place.

"I was never that champion that they wanted -- the guy that they saw the suffering on his face every second of the day," Armstrong said of the French media. "I tried to keep a neutral face, sort of robotic face."

While racing along the French countryside, Armstrong said he would often hear people shouting accusations and insults at him.

"The press also influences the people," he said. "What they write or report trickles down directly to the roadside. You're coming through, many times, people who have just read the paper with some salacious headline and people are yelling it at you along the side of the road."

The recent drug allegations are based on last year's testimony by one of Armstrong's former teammates Frankie Andreu and his wife, Betsy.

The couple testified to a Dallas court that they had been with Armstrong when the doctor had asked him about doping and that Armstrong had admitted to using performance enhancers.

Stephanie McIlvain, Armstrong's friend who was also present at the session, testified that Armstrong never said that.

On Friday, Armstrong released a statement that said, in part, "the latest story, which alleges an admission of using performance enhancing drugs in a hospital in 1996, is today as absurd and untrue as when it was first circulated years ago. It never happened."

"After having been illegally provided selective items from that trial, and on the eve of the 2006 Tour de France, a French newspaper again published stale, unfounded and untrue allegations about me," he said.

Armstrong came to "Good Morning America" to speak about the ESPY Awards, but he also addressed some of the drug allegations against him, including previous ones from former champion cyclist Greg LeMond.

"Greg was the greatest American rider for a long time, and I guess some would argue still might be," Armstrong said. "He was my idol as a kid, and I always looked up to him. I don't have anything bad to say about Greg other than that's not true."

Now that he's retired, Armstrong said that maybe the bull's-eye will be on the next star's back.

The ESPY Awards

In the meantime, he said he was excited to host the Academy Awards of sports.

This year, New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, tennis player James Blake, and L.A. Lakers forward Ronny Turiaf are all nominated for Best Comeback Athlete of the Year.

During the off-season before the 2005 football season, Bruschi, a New England fan favorite, suffered a stroke. He later underwent surgery to repair a hole in his heart. Bruschi, a member of three Patriots' Super Bowl Championship teams, came back halfway through the season and made tackles and sacks with the same gusto he did before the stroke. He finished the season with 61 tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble, earning the Co-NFL Comeback Player of The Year.

Armstrong said that Blake had fractured a vertebrae in his neck when he crashed into a tennis net. As a result, he endured partial facial paralysis and within five weeks of his accident, his father died. Blake entered the U.S. Open as a wild card and lost in the semifinals to Andre Agassi, a match that came down to a final tiebreaker. He will play at Wimbledon.

Turiaf underwent heart surgery last summer after a team doctor diagnosed him with an enlarged aortic root during a team physical after he was drafted following graduation from Gonzaga College. Initially, Turiaf was expected to miss the entire 2005-2006 season. However, he recovered quickly and just six months after his surgery, he began his rookie season.

The ESPY Awards are expected to air on July 16 at 9 p.m. E.T. Today is the beginning of the voting period when fans can vote on their favorite athletes. Voting lasts until midnight July 8.

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