Pat McQuaid once said Lance Armstrong had no place in cycling, but now says the Texan has been unfairly treated

Former UCI president Pat McQuaid says the treatment of Lance Armstrong has been overly harsh.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, the Irishman, who headed the UCI between 2006 and 2013, described the “witch hunt after Armstrong” in the lead up to his eventual ban.

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When USADA published their report into the US Postal Service team’s institutionalised doping, McQuaid said Armstrong had “no place in cycling” as he stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles.

But now McQuaid believes it is time to reduce Armstrong’s ban having seen the Texan treated differently to other riders caught doping in the same era.

“USADA wanted a big name,” he said. “They weren’t really interested in the smaller riders and also they made deals with the smaller riders in order to get the information they needed on the big guys.

“I can have a certain sympathy because I don’t think in sport, people in those situations, I think they should be treated equally.”