You can tell the Tour de France isn’t far away: there’s another major drugs scandal in the news. This one’s a big one. It rivals the Festina scandal from 1998, with Floyd Landis accusing Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel and just about everyone else from his days at US Postal and Phonak.
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Floyd doesn’t pull his punches. Some of it we have heard before, but his attack on the UCI is potentially the most damaging to our sport. Bike racing’s world governing body and its former president, Hein Verbruggen, were quick to dismiss Landis’s allegation that Armstrong and Bruyneel made a payment to ensure that a positive test for EPO at the Tour of Switzerland in 2001 was suppressed.
A separate storm is brewing over another payment. Armstrong told CW, in November 2008, that he had made a donation of $25,000 to the UCI in 2005. Last week, current UCI president Pat McQuaid admitted on Irish radio that the payment was in fact $100,000, $88,000 of which was spent on a Sysmex machine. Of the remaining $12,000 McQuaid said: “We had $12,000 change out of it, so what odds does that make?”
The same day, on another continent, Armstrong gave a press conference and was asked if he had ever paid the UCI any money. “Absolutely not.” he replied.
Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly