Armstrong tells Montreal conference he's a Tour de France winner
Published Wednesday, August 29, 2012 10:58AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 29, 2012 10:08PM EDT
Cycling legend and accused doper Lance Armstrong made it clear in Montreal on Wednesday that he still considers himself a champion, despite recently losing all his titles.
Armstrong, who was speaking at a cancer conference in the city, introduced himself as a seven-time Tour de France winner.
"My name is Lance Armstrong. I am a cancer survivor," he said in his remarks to the World Cancer Congress.
"I'm a father of five. And yes, I won the Tour de France seven times."
The cycling legend's statement at the World Cancer Congress meeting came as a surprise to many, given the fact that his wins will now be effectively erased from the record books.
He was stripped of his titles and banned from cycling by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency after the agency concluded he used banned substances.
Armstrong, who has never failed a blood test and has fought stridently against the charges, unexpectedly gave up the fight last week, announcing "enough was enough" and he would no longer challenge the accusations.
Among his accusers is Floyd Landis, a former teammate who went on to win the 2006 Tour de France, only to have his title stripped for doping. Landis then went public with allegations against Armstrong, and other teammates later followed suit.
In June, Armstrong won the Ironman 70.3 -- the high-profile half-Ironman event in Hawaii, and was slated to compete in the full-length event at the Ironman World Championship in October.
But he had to continue defending himself against the charges against him, in order to participate.
With his decision last week not to defend himself, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's ban from competitive sports takes effect and he will no longer be able to compete.
Though Armstrong began his Wednesday speech by referencing the recent controversy, he quickly moved on to talk about his cancer advocacy and fundraising work with the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and the challenges that lie ahead.
"When we see what we're up against it is so tremendous and the burden is so big, and the potential is so amazing, we can't be distracted. My promise to you and my promise on behalf of this organization is that we are here and we're going to fight," Armstrong said during his address.
“My dream is to never have to stand up here again, never have to come to these events again,” he said. “We’re done.”
Armstrong also took to Twitter to invite Montrealers to join him Wednesday evening on a 7.5 kilometre-run up Mount Royal.
Hundreds of excited fans showed up to join him, undeterred by his recent fall from the cycling-world’s good graces.
“I got this bottle from his Tour de France in 2010. He signed it,” said one excited fan.
“We hope it's somehow not true. Maybe it's being a bit naive, but we still follow him and support what he has done,” said another.
Amstrong is a cancer survivor himself and talked about the struggles he faced following his 1996 testicular cancer diagnosis.
His “Livestrong” foundation has raised nearly $500 million for cancer awareness, treatment and care. Donations to Armstrong’s foundation have reportedly increased since he was stripped of his medals.
At the conference, Armstrong announced his foundation will donate an additional $500,000 to an initiative aimed at improving cancer care access around the world.
With a report from CTV’s Montreal Bureau Chief Genevieve Beauchemin and CTV Montreal’s Tarah Schwartz