Sunday 29, Dec 2013

Former UCI President Seeks Apology From Armstrong

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Tour de France lance armstrongHein Verbruggen, the former UCI President who is accused of covering up Lance Armstrong’s positive drug test, has revealed the “misery” he has suffered since the allegations emerged and said he had written to Armstrong seeking an apology.

Verbruggen argued that the accusations made by Lance Armstrong were designed for reducing the life ban imposed after he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. Last month, Armstrong claimed that the Dutchman had helped suppress news of his doping in 1999 and gave his consent to blame a positive test on a backdated prescription for a steroid cream to treat saddle sores.

Verbruggen said: “It’s a bullshit story and nothing else. Never, ever would I have had a conversation saying, ‘We have to take care of this’.

“It might very well be that he or somebody else from the team has given me a call and my first reaction was, ‘S—. We had this Festina problem and now this’. But that’s a very long way from concluding we have to do something about it.

“How can I take care of something that is known already by the laboratory, that is known already by the French Ministry [which conducted the test], that is known by the UCI, the anti-doping people at the UCI? It’s ridiculous.”

“I’m absolutely sure the next day it would be like this in the paper: ‘Doubts cast by Verbruggen on Armstrong’. That’s something I was not particularly keen on. I hadn’t said that about anybody, ever. Now they blame me — ‘You should’ve said that’. But I don’t think anybody would. You don’t. You can’t.”

Verbruggen however agreed with Lance Armstrong that he had been unfairly demonized. “Pat McQuaid [former UCI president] said about Lance Armstrong, ‘Lance has no place in cycling’. I would never have said that. We know now that at that time, yes, there were a lot of people on EPO and he was one of them. Nobody should single him out on that basis. He doped, it was forbidden, it’s cheating. But he was not the only one, that’s for sure.”

Saturday 28, Dec 2013

Verbruggen Blasts Lance Armstrong

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Hein Verbruggen lance armstrong

Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen has hit back at doping cover-up claims made by Lance Armstrong and said his own reputation is being destroyed.

The former head of world cycling has accused the rider of making accusations against him for financial gains and remarked that there was no corruption during his reign in charge of the International Cycling Union. Verbruggen also produced documentary evidence aimed at showing there was no positive test and said he had written to the American rider seeking an apology. Verbruggen said, “I see it as if I’m part of a kind of industry now: it’s called the Lance Armstrong industry. People are making films now. It’s all part of the industry. You have a lot of people in it with a vested interest, and this interest is clearly not to know the truth.”

“Lance Armstrong has his own agenda and that is certainly his own personal interest, whether it is that he wants his sanctions to be reduced or whether he wants money. Usually, with Lance, there is always an interest also in money. My interest is the truth.” The former UCI head added of the cyclist, “Does he make money if he comes with a juicy story? I think it has to do with the fact he has told his team-mates he has once been positive. That’s what I believe.” The ex-UCI chief also remarked, “You will never, ever find any cover-up in the UCI while I was president, and I’m sure afterwards neither. There is no bribery, whatever they say.”

“When you’re so long in cycling, you suspect everything,” he said, acknowledging he was “wrong” at the time to lash out at those who claimed doping was rife in the sport.

“You know it’s going on but you do not know the details. You don’t, you don’t.” He added: “The suspicion against a rider like that — in this case Lance Armstrong — builds up gradually.”

Friday 13, Dec 2013

Cookson And Armstrong Had No Contact Over Doping Commission

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Brian Cookson has revealed he has had no contact with Lance Armstrong over the banned cyclist taking a part in an independent commission into doping and conduct of the world governing body in the past.

Last month, it was announced by the International Cycling Union president that the UCI will be establishing a commission to look into the practices of predecessors Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen for restoring credibility to both the organization and the sport following years of corruption allegations and drug scandals.

Cookson has left the door open to Armstrong’s participation by adding: “We are going to offer the same opportunity to everybody and Lance Armstrong will be welcome to give his contribution.”

“We know a lot of what went on,” Cookson added. “What I’m really most concerned about is the allegations of the UCI’s collusion and cover-ups. That is something that we have got to establish fairly quickly.”

“It will take a couple of months to set up [the independent commission]. It is not going to be over in two or three months – it will take longer than that. I’m hoping it can be concluded with 12 months.”

Cookson, immediately after his appointment to the post of UCI president, instructed IT equipment and documents from the UCI headquarters in Aigle to be seized and securely stored. “What we wanted to do was make sure nothing was hidden or destroyed that shouldn’t have been,” Cookson said.

“All the information is there, back-up tapes and copies of back-up tapes from the UCI’s computers as far back as we can go, some old laptops, hard drives and so on.

“It is securely and independently stored. The only persons that I will give permission to look at that information will be the people who will be conducting the independent inquiry.”

Monday 25, Nov 2013

Verbruggen Questions Armstrong’s Credibility

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Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen has questioned the credibility of now-banned cyclist Lance Armstrong after the rider implicated the Dutchman in covering up doping at the 1999 Tour de France.

“Since when do people believe Lance Armstrong?” Verbruggen wrote in a text message to the Netherlands’ NOS television network. “Since he told Oprah Winfrey he had never ‘sorted out’ anything with the UCI? Or since he (for money!) makes films and gives interviews in which he apparently has to serve up juicy details?”

The seven-time Tour de France winner recently claimed that the ex-UCI President insisted “we’ve got to come up with something” for explaining the positive tests of Armstrong for a banned corticosteroid. The rider provided a backdated prescription that was accepted, which allowed the American rider to continue racing and win his first Tour.

“His story is illogical because it was not about a positive/punishable act according to the anti-doping authority involved.”

Verbruggen added that UCI didn’t have lead responsibility for anti-doping at the race 14 years ago.

“That authority was not the UCI but the French ministry. From accusations a year ago about large-scale complicity of the UCI in doping by Lance Armstrong and his team, we’re now back to a cortisone case from 1999 that was not even handled by the UCI,” said the former president.

Thursday 21, Nov 2013

Cycling Doping Probe Confirmed By WADA And UCI

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Cycling’s governing body UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency have agreed to work together in a commission for investigating the sport’s dark doping past. Many believe this agreement will give WADA something to cheer about for its behind-the-scenes discussions at its World Conference on Doping in Sport.

In a joint statement, WADA and UCI said that they have agreed “the broad terms under which the UCI will conduct a commission of inquiry into the historical doping problems in cycling.” This agreement followed a private meeting between new UCI President Brian Cookson and WADA President Johan Fahey at the conference in Johannesburg.

“They (Cookson and Fahey) further agreed that their respective colleagues would cooperate to finalize the detailed terms and conditions of the inquiry to ensure that the procedures and ultimate outcomes would be in line with the fundamental rules and principles of the World Anti-Doping Code,” the two bodies said.

Banned American cyclist Lance Armstrong would be invited to testify to the joint commission, remarked Cookson. The cyclist was banned in 2012 for life and it is rumored that some UCI officials protected him from doping protocols.

 “I would like to see Lance Armstrong come and give evidence, if he has any evidence in particular on the kind of allegations being made about him buying support or collusion from UCI officials,” Cookson told AP. “If those things are true I’d like to hear about it and I’m sure the commission would like to hear about it as well.

“As part of that (commission), we’ll investigate allegations of the UCI’s behavior in the past and if there are any issues that come up out of that, we will deal with them effectively.”

The commission would likely start work in early 2014 and Cookson said he wanted it to be finished within 12 months.

Wednesday 30, Oct 2013

Pledged Anti-Doping Measures To Be Instigated By UCI

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Pledged Anti-Doping Measures To Be Instigated By UCIStakeholders are right to expect the anti-doping plans pledged by the new administration of world cycling to be implemented within six months, said Australia’s vice-president of the Union Cycliste Internationale, Tracey Gaudry.

Last month, ex-UCI head Pat McQuaid lost his bid for re-election at the UCI congress and Englishman Brian Cookson was voted in.

Gaudry when asked if cycling can move on completely without Lance Armstrong telling the entire truth said, ”The sport needs to do whatever it can to understand what led to the practices of the past becoming so rife and being so accepted and to be able to implement the practices and processes to be able to avoid such infiltration in future.

”The sport also needs to recognize that it’s going to be impossible to uncover every single practice and single activity that took away from the integrity of cycling.

”Any information Lance Armstrong, or another athlete or administrator, brings forward in the right environment will be beneficial for the sport to move on in the public eye, to address issues so they don’t arise again and [ensure] there is a more robust anti-doping methodology, and administration and governance at all levels.”

Gaudry also expressed hopes that women’s cycling in Oceania will experience changes. ”We are looking at working very hard at rebuilding a Continental calendar across this region for 2015,” Gaudry said. ”Let’s capitalize on other women’s events, such as the Tour of Qatar in February. Let’s start piggy-backing on existing events to create a global calendar.”

Friday 25, Oct 2013

Lance Armstrong A Thug, Says Greg Lemond

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Lance Armstrong would have been “top 30 at best” and “not capable of” winning the Tour de France without doping, says former cycling great Greg LeMond, the only U.S. rider to win the Tour de France.

LeMond, in an interview that aired Monday night on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°, called Armstrong a “thug” who used his cancer-survival story and Armstrong Foundation for manipulating the cancer community and shielding himself from allegations. The interview was billed by CNN as LeMond’s first in-depth interview after Armstrong admitted to using banned performance enhancing drugs during his career.

When asked if Armstrong perpetrated the greatest fraud in sports history, LeMond replied, “Absolutely. Absolutely. The greatest fraud was that — I mean, I know his physical capability. He is a top 30 at best. I mean, at best. No matter what. If he was clean, everybody was clean, he was top 30 at best. He is not capable of, not — capable of the top five.”

“What do you think should happen to him now?” Cooper asked.

“This is not a sporting infraction,” said LeMond, a three-time winner of the Tour de France. “This is criminal.”

“You think he should go to jail?” Cooper asked.

“I do, yes,” LeMond said.

“He manipulated the cancer community,” LeMond said. “I mean, I have family members with cancer. Everybody has been affected — by cancer. But it was the manipulation and using that as — a way to, like, it was like Teflon. He used the money, he used the foundation to — not only cover for him but also destroy people.”

Tuesday 01, Oct 2013

Armstrong Should Reveal Complete Truth, Says UCI Head

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In his first move as UCI president, Brian Cookson has urged Lance Armstrong to divulge all that he knows about past doping activities. “I hope that he is going to tell the complete truth,” said Cookson, “I haven’t spoken with him before but if he wants to help cycling, if he wants to be a witness, there is a place for him.”

Cookson also said he is open for exploring the option of a possible amnesty for past cyclists if they testify when the world governing body of cycling sets up a full inquiry into doping within cycling. “It’s not the easiest thing to manage, but it’s something we are going to work on. This would enable us to close the door on the past, it’s too early to go into detail but it would be good for cycling,” Cookson said.

Previously, Armstrong had indicated that he will talk to any so-called truth and reconciliation commission.

“Well I’m always pleased to hear that anyone is happy about my being elected, whoever it may be, Lance Armstrong or any other cycling fan around the world,” Cookson said and added that setting up such a commission will be among his first tasks.

“We need to have a structure in place as quickly as possible,” Cookson said. “Lance Armstrong is obviously one of those people who will be invited to contribute to the process once we’ve established that, and I’ll certainly be seeking to do that as quickly as possible.”

Tuesday 10, Sep 2013

Armstrong Pushed By Judge To Come Clean

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Lance Edward Armstrong, who had won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times between 1999 and 2005 before being disqualified and barred for life, has been asked by a Texas judge to come closer to his first sworn testimony on details of use of performance enhancing drugs by him.

The judge ordered Lance Armstrong to provide answers to questions about who knew what and when about his doping, including possibly his ex-wife and his attorneys.

The information is sought by Nebraska-based Acceptance Insurance Holding in its lawsuit to recover $3 million in bonuses it paid Armstrong from 1999 to 2001.

A few weeks ago, Travis County District Judge Tim Sulak ordered the cyclist to provide documents and written answers to a series of questions by the end of September.

Lance Armstrong recently settled with the British newspaper The Sunday Times and is presently fighting a class-action lawsuit in California by readers of his book “It’s Not About the Bike” that claims fraud and false advertising. In addition to that, a whistle-blower lawsuit against him has been joined by federal prosecutors that seek to recover more than $30 million in sponsorship money paid to him by the U.S. Postal Service. He has one more case to defend in which SCA Promotions, a Dallas-based insurance company, has sued Armstrong for $12 million it paid him in performance bonuses.

Information about ex-wife Kristin Armstrong and the attorneys is exempt from disclosure under spouse and attorney-client privilege, the lawyers for Lance Armstrong said.

The case has been set for trial in April 2014.

Wednesday 07, Aug 2013

McQuaid Claims He Changed Doping Culture Within Cycling

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UCI president, Pat McQuaid, has claimed and believes he is the man who has completely changed the culture of doping in cycling ever since he rose to power in 2005.

McQuaid, speaking on RTÉ Radio One, said he has done more than others in the fight against doping that reached its peak in October last year when seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was exposed by the United States Anti-Doping Agency as a drug cheat and subsequently stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

“I’m the beginning of the new guard because I’m the one who has completely changed the culture of doping in our sport since I came in eight years ago,” said McQuaid.

“Eight years ago, the sport was riddled (with drugs). We had Armstrong, who had just retired, and I was aware there was a culture of doping and I stated I was going to attack it over those years. I’ve done many things to attack it over those years.”

“And changing the culture isn’t something you do overnight. I brought in the biological passport system, I brought in the corticosteroid rule, I brought in a no-needles policy. I brought in a rule where riders who were caught doping could not come back to the sport as part of an entourage and a whole raft of measures to combat doping in the sport.” “On top of that, for instance, we’ve a conference on doping every year for riders at the Junior World Championships that they’re obligated to go to. If they don’t go, they can’t ride the worlds two or three days later. I’ve started a study in Lausanne University into the sociological aspects of doping in the sport and it’s going to continue for two years.”

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