POSTED: Friday, January 18, 2013 - 7:30pm
UPDATED: Friday, January 18, 2013 - 7:34pm
Baton Rouge, LA (NBC33) — Lance Armstrong was one of the most popular athletes in the country. Now he is considered a cheater and a fraud in the eyes of millions. But people inside the world of cycling think his talking about steroids will have little impact on the sport or the fight against cancer.
"If he admitted it a year ago," said Chris Clark, president of the Baton Rouge Bike Club , "it would've been a big deal. But I think there's very few people who still thought that he was completely clean at this point."
Lance Armstrong transformed cycling from a fringe sport to an annual obsession as he won 7 straight Tour de France titles.
"I think he was huge, a huge impetus to get people interested in cycling, and I really value his efforts."
Bicycle stores in Baton Rouge say racers make up a small percentage of the people who choose to ride. Most ride with their families, to navigate college campuses, or to commute to work.
"I don't think that Lance's admission is going to affect the dozens of people that I see ride their bikes down my street every day," Clark said.
Armstrong's talk of cheating could bring about change, if he works with officials from the World Anti-Doping Agency and International Cycling Union on removing performing-enhancing drugs from the sport.
"If he gets onboard and wants to help make the sport continue to be cleaner and cleaner, I can't see anything wrong with that," Clark said.
But Armstrong's influence has been greatest through his fundraising against cancer.
"I think that he inspired a lot of people on the bike, but I know that he saved a lot of lives by inspiring people through his cancer work."
The Livestrong Foundation  reports having raised more than $500 million since Armstrong founded it in 1997. Clark believes people now consider the cause more important than the cyclist.
"We should still appreciate his work with cancer, and I think his legacy is gonna live on with Livestrong. And hopefully it won't be diminished because of this character flaw that he finally admitted to."