Hein Verbruggen: Lance Armstrong cannot be trusted
Lance Armstrong cannot be trusted, according to former cycling boss, Hein Verbruggen. Armstrong claimed on Sunday that Verbruggen encouraged him and his US Postal Service team to conceal a Tour de France doping positive. Verbruggen called the allegation "illogical."
"Since when does anyone believe Lance Armstrong? When he told Oprah Winfrey that he never made a deal with the UCI? Or when he (for a fee) makes films and gives interviews, and hints that there are more juicy stories to follow," Verbruggen wrote yesterday in a text message to Dutch TV station, NOS.
"His story is illogical because it was not a positive/anti-doping offence according to the authority in charge. That body was not the UCI but the French Ministry. After accusations a year ago of the UCI's mass complicity in the Lance Armstrong doping affair, we are not back to a cortisone case from 1999 that was not even the UCI's."
The 72-year-old Dutchman was Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) president until 2005, when Pat McQuaid took over. Former British Cycling president, Brian Cookson won the election in September in a bitter fight with McQuaid. He campaigned on clearing up the UCI's past.
The UCI accepted a $125,000 donation from Armstrong in 2002. It came during a period when the Texan was winning seven Tour de France titles and under scrutiny.
Former team-mates Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton alleged that Armstrong told them that the UCI helped cover up his EPO positive from the 2001 Tour of Switzerland. Soigneur Emma O'Reilly claimed that Armstrong's team faked a back-dated medical certificate at the 1999 Tour to explain traces of steroid in his urine. Hamilton confirmed the story in last year's US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) investigation.
In January's Oprah Winfrey interview, Armstrong denied the 2001 EPO story but said the 1999 medical certificate story is true.
"But the real problem was, the sport was on life support [in 1999]," Armstrong explained to the Daily Mail on Sunday. "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's first win in 1999 came a year after cycling's biggest doping scandal, the Festina Affair. The US agency last October found Armstrong guilty of cheating throughout his career, stripped his 1999 and subsequent six Tour wins and banned him for life.
He refused to testify but may do so now in an inquiry that cycling's new administration is pushing forward. Armstrong said that he plans to give evidence that will "sink" Verbruggen.
"I'm not protecting them at all. I have no loyalty towards them," he added. "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."
Lance Armstrong says he has evidence to sink Verbruggen
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.