Recently retired Thor Hushovd is ‘no hero’ for keeping silent about Lance Armstrong’s doping after hearing about it in 2011, says US anti-doping boss Travis Tygart.
“You’re no hero when you sit still without doing something about injustice against great athletes,” Tygart told Norway’s VG website.
“It’s a sad day when athletes are afraid to or unable to stand up for fair play and integrity in sport.”
The head of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) led the case against Lance Armstrong and found him guilty of doping throughout most of his career. It led to a lifetime ban for the American and the loss of his seven Tour de France wins.
The 36-year-old Nowegian and 2010 World Champion wrote in his autobiography, Thor, released on Wednesday, that Armstrong admitted to him he doped. At a 2011 lunch in Los Angeles, one year before Tygart’s investigation found Armstrong guilty, Armstrong told the Norwegian, “we all did it.”
Armstrong spoke with Hushovd after the Tour of California. During that time, Tyler Hamilton accused his former team-mate of doping and Armstrong called Hamilton a liar.
Instead of speaking out or telling investigators what he knew, Hushovd was quiet. “I did not realise that about him,” Hushovd told TV2 in 2012 when asked about Armstrong’s doping. “I chose to trust him.”
“He told me confidentially,” Hushovd said at a press conference for his book release last week. “Then I don’t find it natural to go to anti-doping authorities with what someone said. It’s not my job. My job is to ride as fast as possible. Others will take off and find out who doped.”
Hushovd wrote in Thor and also said in the press conference that the Armstrong investigation and subsequent inquires were “witch hunts for old sinners.” He said that the money could be better spent to improve current anti-doping tests.
“It is the kind of thing you’d expect to hear from someone who sat still and let the deception continue,” Tygart explained. “Those who heard these things, however, should have said so.
“Sport will only be cleared up if those who have cheated in the past are held accountable for what they did. If you cheated before without getting caught, the chances are very good that you’ll continue later. It gives little hope for all of us who love the sport.”
Tygart relied on 11 team-mates in his case against Armstrong: Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie. He said that he might have missed a “great opportunity” with Hushovd.
“Doping Norway and USADA would very much like to hear from him why he did not do anything,” added Tygart, “but instead sat quietly and let the lie and deception continue.”
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