LANCE Armstrong this week said he hoped that one day cycling would be “dope-free”.

Of all the people to come out with such a line, the disgraced cyclist, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life for doping, was the least likely.

Armstrong has previously shown little or no remorse and in January gave an interview in which he said he would probably repeat his actions.

Now, following the publication of a damning report into the drugs culture within the sport, Armstrong appears to have changed his tune.

“I am deeply sorry for many things I have done,” he said.

“However, it is my hope that revealing the truth will lead to a bright, dope-free future for the sport I love.”

The Cycling Independent Reform Commission report claims that cycling still has a problem with widespread doping and that two former presidents of the International Cycling Union, Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid, were complicit during the 1990s and 2000s.

It would be nice to believe such sentiment from Armstrong but his claims ring rather hollow given what has gone before.

That said, a dope-free future for the sport can only be a good thing. Cycling’s image has been dragged through the gutter in recent years and needs all the help it can get.

This report might just be the start of a long road to ridding the sport of its stigma.

Like athletics, the wider public need convincing that the competitors they are watching are genuine and not drugged up to the eyeballs in pursuit of success.