In this July 25, 2004 file photo, overall leader Lance Armstrong, of Austin, Texas, rides down the Champs Elysees avenue past U.S. flags during the 20th and last stage of the Tour de France cycling race between Montereau, southeast of Paris, and the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Federal prosecutors said, Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, they are closing a criminal investigation of Armstrong and will not charge him over allegations the seven-time Tour de France winner used performance-enhancing drugs.AP/File
AUSTIN, Texas – Lance Armstrong says he's relieved by the end of a nearly two-year federal investigation into doping allegations against him, and that he always remained confident he would not be charged.
"It's not a pleasant experience," Armstrong told The Associated Press by phone on Thursday in his first interview since prosecutors in Los Angeles closed their investigation last Friday. 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 this weekend.
"It was difficult at times," the seven-time Tour de France winner said. "But I was confident that we would always end up in this place."
And, for him, this is end of the doping questions. The federal government's decision should put a stop to any allegations or rumors about performance-enhancing drug use during his career, Armstrong said.
"It's over," he said. "I'm moving on."
The World Anti-Doping Agency this week urged U.S. federal authorities to quickly hand over evidence collected in the investigation that was aimed at whether the world's most famous cyclist and his teammates joining in a doping program during his run of Tour victories from 1999-2005.
"I don't want to get bogged down with that. I'm not concerned with that. I'm not going to worry about that," he said.
Armstrong, who has been known to attack his critics in the media and on Twitter, had only issued a muted written statement in response to the end of the investigation when the decision was first announced.
He was reluctant to talk much further about it on Thursday, but said he had a quiet celebration with his family when the investigation was closed.
"I hugged my kids, hugged my girlfriend and went and opened a cold beer," Armstrong said.
Although Armstrong was convinced that he would not be indicted, the cyclist said he was ready to fight a costly legal battle if he was.
"You had to consider all possibilities," Armstrong said.
The 40-year-old Armstrong said he'd turn his attention in 2012 to competing in Ironman triathlons and supporting an anti-smoking campaign in California. He is also the founder of the cancer charity Livestrong.