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Transcript: An interview with Levi Leipheimer

  • Levi Leipheimer talked about his use of performance enhancing drugs on Tuesday, October, 16, 2012. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Santa Rosa-based cyclist Levi Leipheimer sat down with Press Democrat Sports Columnist Bob Padecky to discuss his recent admission of doping, his cycling career, his relationship with former teammate Lance Armstrong and how recent events have changed his life.

PD: How relieved are you are you that this has finally come out, that you were able to tell your side of the story? Has to feel like some sense of closure for you, this whole process.

Levi Leipheimer Through the Years

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LL: Absolutely there's a sense of closure. In one sense, the story is still being told, this will always be a part of my story and my life. In one sense, everything is on the table. There's certainly nothing to hide from. The biggest sense of relief in all of this came when I decided to stop using performance-enhancing substances back in 2007. For me, that was the biggest sense of relief because I felt at the time I can complete without doing this. I no longer have to deal with that stress -- trying to live in this alternate world where we are doing it but we are trying to act like we are not doing it.

PD: When you found yourself able to compete and compete successfully, did you look back and say, "Did I really need to do this at all?"

LL: There is a sense of that, yes. I definitely would have hoped it was that way, never having to cross that line and use performance-enhancing substances. None of us meant to do that, but there was a moment in the sport in which the testing had really caught up. We felt like if there was going to be a time to stop and take a stance on personally what we were going to do, that was the moment. It was a little scary. I didn't know if we really could compete without it. When I kept getting results without it, it was a huge relief. The Tour of California, the bronze medal in the Olympic Games. Second place in the Vuelta. Those are the results that I am proud of because they came with a huge sense of relief.

PD: Because they came clean?

LL: They came clean, yes.

PD: Describe the pressure to dope.

LL: Professional cycling at that highest elite level is a completely separate world than me riding around in Sonoma County with my friends and the GranFondo. It's a separate business altogether. It's really tough to convey to people the way I felt and the way I perceived the choice back then. If you read all the riders' admissions from last week it's funny it was like we all had the exact same story, yet it was each individual's statement. And everyone said we don't want to make excuses, but at the time we felt we really had no choice. It was so casually discussed in the peloton. No one felt like they were cheating. They didn't feel like they were cheating each other, you know. Obviously, we knew the rules and we were breaking the rules, but it was easy to be in that situation and just realize everybody was doing it. After a while, you justified it to yourself. We were like frogs in boiling water.


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