Disgraced Santa Rosa cyclist Levi Leipheimer says many of his best results including winning an Olympic bronze medal came without the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

"They came clean, yes," Leipheimer told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat in his first interview since last week's disclosures that Leipheimer was one of 11 cyclists to reveal his drug use during a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation into Lance Armstrong.

The anti-doping agency has banned Armstrong, a seven-time winner of the Tour de France and one of America's best known athletes as a cancer survivor.

Leipheimer, who turns 39 next week, gave the interview Tuesday, the day Omega Pharma - Quick-Step terminated his contract. He is serving a six-month suspension but will be eligible for the 2013 season if he can find a new team.

"I don't want to stop like this," Leipheimer said.

The popular Bay Area cyclist said he stopped using drugs in 2007 and won his three Amgen Tour of California titles while clean. He also finished second at the 2008 Vuelta de Espana, one of the three Grand Tours.

"Those are the results I am proud of because they came with a huge sense of relief," Leipheimer told the Press Democrat.

The cyclist described the pressure from his team to take drugs as being "like frogs in boiling water."

"You go from a 13-year old boy who falls in love with cycling," Leipheimer said. "Along the way, little by little, honestly, you get your heart broken piece by piece. You come to realize what it was really like."


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The cyclist described his concern over retribution from Armstrong after testifying two years ago to a federal grand jury that investigated the Tour winner in a separate case that has since been dropped.

Leipheimer said Armstrong wouldn't talk to him when they ran into each other. But then Armstrong sent a text message to Leipheimer's wife that read, "Run, don't walk." The Santa Rosa cyclist considered the text a threat.

"When you put it all together you can't help to be worried about that," Leipheimer told the newspaper. "He knows a lot of people and has a lot of connections."

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.