Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome says cycling is "in a great place now" but still encounters "negativity" due to past doping offences in the sport.
Lance Armstrong, who won seven straight Tour titles from 1999, was the subject of the biggest doping scandal in cycling's history after allegations throughout his career.
The American was eventually stripped of his honours in October 2012 and admitted to using banned substances the following year.
Other high-profile names were also found guilty in the same era, and Team INEOS star Froome acknowledges the sport has had to work hard to turn its reputation around.
In an interview on Instagram, former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen referred to Armstrong as he asked Froome about a period of widespread doping in cycling.
Froome replied: "We're still having to justify ourselves. It's 15 years on at least, and we're still talking about it. It did a lot of damage.
"That era has damaged the sport to a great extent, but I do really believe that the sport has turned the page.
"I don't think that I could have won the Tour de France four times if it hadn't changed. I think the sport is in a great place now.
"Of course, it's challenging with the negativity and always having to answer the same questions year in, year out to the sceptics who won't believe any performance.
"But at the same time, what can we do? We just get on with it and we know that what we're doing it right. We've got nothing to hide."
Comparing performances between modern-day riders and past dopers, Froome added: "Obviously we know what was happening 15 or so years ago. I'd say that the majority of the field were using something to go faster.
"The sport is 100 times cleaner, yet we're going faster up climbs than they were then. The best way to explain it is that as a sport we've evolved so much in terms of technology and nutrition and ways of training.
"As athletes, we're probably better than they were 15 years ago. Having said that, I don't think that our ability to recover is the way it was back then.
"Using whatever it was to manipulate their blood back then would have meant that they could have done that day in, day out.
"Now we'll have one massive stage and you can visibly see that there's a change in pace for the next two to three days. The whole group needs to go slower."