Spanish champion cyclist Miguel Indurain said Tuesday he believed Lance Armstrong was innocent of the doping scandal that
has seen the US rider stripped of seven Tour de France titles.
“Even now I believe in his innocence. He has always respected all the
regulations… He has won all the cases he’s had,” said Indurain, who won the
Tour de France five times consecutively in 1991-1995.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) on Monday gave its backing to a
report by the US Anti-Doping Agency that placed Armstrong at the heart of the
biggest doping program in sport.
It annulled his record back to August 1, 1998, making Indurain once again
the joint record-holder in the world’s top cycling race, alongside the Belgian
Eddy Merckx and Frenchmen Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil.
Indurain expressed doubts about the disciplinary procedures against
Armstrong, who was sanctioned on the basis of testimonies by former team mates
cited in the US agency’s report, not on the results of doping tests.
“I am a bit surprised. It is a bit strange that this has only been based on
testimonies,” Indurain said on Radio Marca. “The rules said one thing and now
it seems they have changed.”
Indurain added that Armstrong “has always been a fighter. What surprises me
is that he doesn’t keep fighting… I think he will come back and appeal and
try to show that he played fair for all those years”.