Lance Armstrong plans to give evidence in a doping inquiry that will ‘sink’ former cycling president, Hein Verbruggen. In an interview with the Daily Mail, he indicated that his team concealed his 1999 Tour de France positive on Verbruggen’s insistence.
“Don’t think I’m protecting any guys after the way they treated me, that is ludicrous. I’m not protecting them at all. I have no loyalty towards them,” the 42-year-old American explained in the article published yesterday.
“In the proper forum I’ll tell everyone what they want to know. I’m not going to lie to protect these guys. I hate them. They threw me under the bus. I’m done with them.”
The interview took place in Celebration, Florida, where Armstrong met with former team US Postal Service soigneur, Emma O’Reilly. O’Reilly gave evidence that the team cheated and helped expose the 1999 Tour de France positive and cover up.
Armstrong tested positive for corticosteroid on his way to winning his first of seven Tours. He agreed with O’Reilly in the interview that the team doctor back-dated a prescription for a saddle sore cream to rescue him. He suggested, according to the Daily Mail, that it was Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) president, Verbruggen that insisted with the cover-up.
“What I remember was there being a problem. I’m not sure if it was a positive but there were traces found. I don’t know if it technically crossed the line. But anyway, it didn’t matter. I can’t remember exactly who was in the room. But Emma has a better memory than I do,” Armstrong said.
“But the real problem was, the sport was on life support. And Hein just said, ‘This is a real problem for me, this is the knockout punch for our sport, the year after Festina, so we’ve got to come up with something.’ So we back-dated the prescription.”
Armstrong won his first Tour title in the wake of the Festina Affair that had nearly stopped the 1998 edition. That and his other six titles are missing from the record books now. Last October, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) found him guilty of cheating throughout his career and stripped his results from 1998 onwards.
Verbruggen wrote a letter on November 3 to the presidents of the national federations to defend his position and to say good-bye to the sport.
“I have never acted inappropriately. With the benefit of hindsight, however, I admit that I could have done some things differently, but I do not accept that my integrity is in doubt,” the 72-year-old Dutchman wrote.
He said that the UCI “never protected” Armstrong. “The UCI’s position on the 1999 Tour de France and the 2001 Tour de Suisse was already clarified. I will not waste your time to repeat what has been said over the years.”
Armstrong’s former team-mates Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton alleged that Armstrong told them that the UCI helped him cover up a EPO positive from the 2001 Tour of Switzerland.
He refused to speak to US investigators but has another chance now. He says he will talk to them and the UCI as part of new inquiry into cycling’s past. New president, Brian Cookson said the inquiry could look back as far as 1998.
“The areas where there is more to know about is around the other people involved in those activities at that time,” Cookson told the Telegraph on Friday. “I’m talking more about the doctors, the coaches, the facilitators and so on. But, above all, I think the most important thing is the allegations that have been made about cover-ups and collusion at the UCI in the past.”
Armstrong indicated that he is ready to give evidence on the UCI’s past. He explained, “This is going to sound very arrogant, but if I don’t walk into that [inquiry] first, who follows?”