Armstrong shows ribald side as ESPY Awards host |

Armstrong shows ribald side as ESPY Awards host

Beth Harris
Show host Lance Armstrong accepts his award for best male athlete at the 2006 ESPY Awards in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles Wednesday, July 12, 2006. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Cyclist Lance Armstrong let loose with a ribald opening monologue as the first athlete to host the ESPY Awards on Wednesday night.

Armstrong was greeted with a standing ovation when he took the Kodak Theatre stage for the taping of the 14th annual show that honors the year’s best sports moments and athletes. The show will air Sunday night on ESPN.

“Now I know what you’re thinking; ‘What am I doing up here?'” he said. “The truth is, it’s the same thing as the rest of you: I’m a huge fan of Lance Armstrong.”

Armstrong’s jokes were peppered with expletives and a provocative reference to the testicular cancer he successfully battled.

He zinged France – the site of his record seven Tour de France victories and ground zero for the accusations of steroid use he’s faced – and the country’s appearance in the World Cup final.

Armstrong singled out some of the superstar athletes in the audience, including Olympic skier Bode Miller, who was criticized for partying hearty during the Turin Games.

“Bode Miller is here, totally sober,” Armstrong cracked. “He only drinks when he races.”

Miller was shown laughing.

Armstrong is usually in France this time of year riding in the Tour, but he retired after winning his seventh championship.

“Retirement has been amazing, but of course I wasn’t he only athlete to hang it up this year,” he said. “Jerry Rice retired before the season, Mario Lemieux retired during the season and Phil Mickelson retired after the 71st hole of the U.S. Open.”

Armstrong narrated a slide show of “all the things I couldn’t do over the last seven years.”

He was superimposed riding the Pyramids in Egypt, flying on his bike over the Grand Canyon, relaxing on the beach with his “soul mate” – his bike – and trying to catch Britney Spears’ infant son when she tripped outside a New York hotel.

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