Raleigh, N.C. — After years of denials, Lance Armstrong's sudden admission this week that used performance-enhancing drugs while capturing seven straight Tour de France titles has split the cycling community.
"I think Lance did wrong. There's no doubt about that," said Skip Flythe, owner of Flythe Cyclery in Raleigh.
"He did a lot after even getting cancer and struggling with it. I consider him still an idol," said Jesse Farnham, a North Carolina State University student and cyclist.
Armstrong came clean about his doping during a Monday interview with Oprah Winfrey that is scheduled to be broadcast Thursday and Friday and her OWN network.
The confession was a stunning reversal for a proud athlete and celebrity who sought lavish praise in the court of public opinion and used courtrooms to punish his critics. For more than a decade, Armstrong dared anybody who challenged his version of events to prove it.
The cyclist was stripped of his Tour titles, lost most of his endorsements and was forced to leave his Livestrong foundation last year after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued a damning, 1,000-page report that accused him of masterminding a long-running doping scheme.
Before his interview, Armstrong apologized to the staff of Livestrong, which raises money for cancer survivors.
The International Cycling Union, or UCI, issued a statement Tuesday saying it was aware of the reports that Armstrong had confessed to Winfrey. The governing body for the sport urged Armstrong to tell his story to an independent commission it has set up to examine claims it covered up suspicious samples from the cyclist, accepted financial donations from him and helped him avoid detection in doping tests.
Flythe said his customers already are questioning him about the Armstrong posters that hang behind his store's counter.
"Several customers have asked me to take them down. Several have asked to purchase them," he said. "I'll just have to see what the public says. I'll do whatever they want me to do with them."
As for why Armstrong decided to confess now, Flythe said he just doesn't know.
"I wish that he just kept quiet," he said.