Cycling through his story
At the pinnacle of his cycling career in 2012, Austin’s own Lance Armstrong came tumbling back to earth after being felled by a doping scandal of epic proportions. In a December 6 interview with CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin, Armstrong candidly discusses this issue along with everything from President Trump to his new multimillion-dollar fortune courtesy of Uber.
In his wide-ranging conversation with Sorkin, Armstrong is frank about the doping issue that led to his being stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles. "We all lied,” the former pro cyclist says about athletes doping to enhance their performance.
He then goes on to say that in his case, doping “isn’t the issue for people. The issue is how I so aggressively defended myself, being litigious, going after people. That’s the thing.”
Sorkin then turns it back to Armstrong’s repeated lies about doping. “But we all lied. I mean, [at] no point were you just gonna say, ‘Oh, you know what? I’m kind of sick of lying. I’m gonna tell you the truth,’” Armstrong tells Sorkin.
Reflecting further on those lies, Armstrong says that if he saw one of his children act the way he did in video clips in which untruths were told about doping, “it would be a very tough conversation.”
Also during the CNBC interview, the disgraced cyclist reveals that another mode of transportation — the ride-hailing service Uber — essentially rescued him from financial ruin.
In the wake of the doping scandal, Armstrong’s lucrative endorsement deals with the likes of Nike and the U.S. Postal Service evaporated, but Armstrong divulged that about 10 years ago, he pumped $100,000 into Lowercase Capital, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm that was among the early backers of Uber. Now, thanks to the stratospheric success of Uber, that initial six-figure investment is valued at millions of dollars, he claimed.
“It’s saved our family,” Armstrong says of that $100,000 bet.
Pressed by Sorkin to offer at least a ballpark figure as to how much the Uber-driven investment is worth now, Armstrong hedges.
“Ten, 20, 30, 40, 50 million dollars?” Sorkin asks.
“It’s one of those. It’s a lot,” Armstrong replies. “It’s a lot.”
Armstrong says he plunked down the $100,000 investment at the invitation in 2008 or 2009 of former Google executive Chris Sacca, founder of Lowercase Capital.
“And I’m thinking to myself, ‘This guy has a huge personality, but he’s also very smart and very well-connected. Why not?’” Armstrong recalls. “So I invested in Chris Sacca. I didn’t even know that he did Uber. I thought he was buying up a bunch of Twitter shares from employees or former employees, and the biggest investment in Lowercase … was Uber.”
Uber recently has floated the idea of going public at a valuation of $120 billion, meaning Armstrong pretty much accidentally parlayed a $100,000 investment into a mini-fortune.
Elsewhere during the interview, Armstrong shot back at President Trump’s criticism of him in 2012 for financially harming himself as a result of the doping scandal.
“Donald Trump was just a loudmouth, you know, out trying to get attention,” Armstrong says of Trump’s pre-White House jab.
Trump isn't the only target of Armstrong’s ire. He also takes on former Major League Baseball player Alex Rodriguez, who was caught up in his own scandal involving performance-enhancing drugs. Armstrong claims there was a double standard between how he was treated and how A-Rod was treated.
“A-Rod didn’t raise half a billion dollars and try to save a bunch of people’s lives. I mean, that’s kind of the irony in this,” says Armstrong, referring to LIVESTRONG, the cancer-fighting charitable foundation he set up. “… Look, it’s great when somebody hits homeruns and, you know, maybe does an event here and there for the [Boys & Girls Clubs of America].”