The stress, the waiting, the whispers about whether he doped during his stellar cycling career, all of it ended when – after nearly two years – federal prosecutors closed an investigation of him last week without bringing any charges.
“I’m happy. I’m glad it’s behind me,” Armstrong told The Associated Press on Thursday in his first interview since prosecutors announced they were dropping the case.
The seven-time Tour de France winner said he remained confident he would not be indicted, but admitted the weight of the long investigation took a toll on him personally.
“It’s not a pleasant experience ... It was difficult at times,” he said. “But I was confident that we would always end up in this place.”
After speaking with the AP, Armstrong participated in a teleconference with media covering this weekend’s triathlon in Panama City, Panama, where he is scheduled to compete.
For the now 40-year-old Armstrong, the federal government’s decision should put a stop to any allegations or rumors about performance-enhancing drug use during his career.
“It’s over,” he said. “I’m moving on.”
Armstrong maintains he has never failed a drug test, but he nonetheless became the focus of investigators’ attention after former teammates Floyd Landis accused him in 2010 of participating in a doping program.
RESULT AMENDED: Cycling revisited its scandal-scarred recent history again Thursday when the Court of Arbitration for Sport found a Tour de France winner guilty of doping for the second time this week.
Jan Ullrich, the 1997 champion, was stripped of his third-place finish in the 2005 race for “intensive involvement” in blood doping linked to the Operation Puerto case.
The 38-year-old German also was banned from the sport for two years.
Because Ullrich retired in disgrace after the Spanish doping investigation emerged in 2006, his latest shame lacked the impact of Alberto Contador’s defeat at sports’ highest court Monday.
Contador was stripped of his third Tour victory after CAS rejected his explanation that eating contaminated meat caused his positive tests for clenbuterol in the final days of the 2010 race.