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Cyclist Scott Mercier walked away from Armstrong, doping

In this Dec. 2, 2008, file photo, Lance Armstrong stands in Livestrong apparel before a training session with the Astana cycling team in Los Cristianos, on the Canary Island of Tenerife, Spain. The cyclist was stripped of his Tour de France titles, lost most of his endorsements and was forced to leave the board of his 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. (AP Photo/Arturo Rodriguez, File)

“One of the most powerful athletes in the world has been held accountable for his actions,” said Scott Mercier.

He had a chance to join one of the most successful cycling teams in the U.S., but when it came down to doping, he said no and walked away.

Now that Lance Armstrong has come clean about his doping past, Mercier said he was unsure Armstrong would own up.

“He denied it for so long, I didn’t think this day would come,” Mercier told Seattle’s Morning News.

Mercier walked away from the sport at the peak of his career. He was an Olympic athlete, but he wouldn’t play by the rules set forth by Armstrong and his team – which meant he wouldn’t be cycling on the Tour de France team or going to another Olympics.

In western Colorado, Mercier now has a wife, a 13-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son. He’s a financial adviser and owns two Carls Jr. restaurants.

He gave up a career as a professional athlete – but was that fair? “Life isn’t fair.”

“I wouldn’t say I suffered because I refused to dope,” said Mercier. “I had to give up a career as a professional athlete, or I was going to do the same thing as everyone else.”

Mercier said that about four months ago, when Armstrong’s doping past really became a part of the public conversation, he had a frank conversation with his wife.

“‘Honey,’ she said, ‘aren’t you glad you’re not coming home and sitting down with your son and daughter – telling your kids that you’re a lying fraud.'”

Some people are willing to do whatever it takes to win. As for Armstrong’s now-stripped away titles, he’s not sure Armstrong couldn’t have won without the drugs. As Armstrong has now said, he wanted to be a part of a level playing field by also doping – Mercier just doesn’t think that’s a legitimate argument.

Mercier didn’t suffer because he wasn’t willing to play by the doping rules. He had a degree to fall back on. As a man that’s passionate about cycling, he wants to make sure that other athletes have an education as well.

“If you look at the last big tour, the grand tour, the Vuelta a Espana, I think about 10 or less than five percent of the people had a degree racing in that,” said Mercier. “I’m a huge proponent of getting these kids into the sport and an education.”

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