Verbruggen Denies Backing Armstrong

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THE HAGUE, Oct 18, 2012 (AFP) – Former International Cycling Union (UCI)
boss Hein Verbruggen dismissed a report in a Dutch newspaper Thursday which
claimed he still backed disgraced cycling icon Lance Armstrong.

Verbruggen, who was the president of the sport’s world governing body from
1991 to 2005, during the time of Armstrong’s seven consecutive Tour de France
wins, was quoted in De Telegraaf as saying: “Lance Armstrong has never been
tested positive including by the USADA (the US Anti-Doping Agency).”

“There is therefore not a trace of proof,” Verbruggen, who is now UCI
honorary president, allegedly told the daily.

But Verbruggen issued a strongly-worded statement through the
Lausanne-based UCI slating the “tone of De Telegraaf’s article which unjustly
states that despite USADA’s dossier I still insist there is no proof” against
Armstrong.

The USADA report was based upon testimony from 26 witnesses that include 11
former Armstrong teammates.

Verbruggen also dismissed comments in which he allegedly criticized Kathy
LeMond, the outspoken wife of three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond.

The paper said LeMond accused Verbruggen earlier this week of taking a
bribe offered by Nike in 1999 to make a positive dope test by Armstrong
disappear, a claim which Verbruggen then claimed “was so absurd it was not
worth an official statement.”

In his UCI statement Thursday, Verbruggen said: “While the impression was
made that it was about a full interview, I just sent the said gentlemen (at De
Telegraaf) a few SMSs (text messages).”

“I was merely reacting to Mrs LeMond’s statement. My singular and only
reaction was that Lance Armstrong has never tested positive by a drug
laboratory, that there was no positive test and therefore it not could have
been hidden,” Verbruggen said, adding he “totally distanced himself from the
article”.

USADA a week ago dropped a bombshell on the cycling world when it released
a 202-page “reasoned decision” into why it had banned Armstrong for life in
August, with more than 1,000 pages of supporting evidence.

The document said Armstrong had been at the heart of the biggest doping
programme in the history of sport.

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