THE HAGUE, Jan 19, 2013 – Former world cycling chief Hein Verbruggen
has dismissed allegations that the sport’s governing body covered up for Lance
Armstrong after the shamed rider admitted doping in a television interview.
The Dutchman, International Cycling Union president at the time of
Armstrong’s seven Tour de France wins between 1999 and 2005, told the ANP news
agency on Friday that the cyclist had put to bed claims of complicity.
“After years of suspicion, I’m happy that this conspiracy was in the end
nothing more than an unsubstantiated theory. Those who accused or suspected us
are obviously disappointed. Nothing was ever hidden,” he was quoted as saying.
Verbruggen, who has been accused of turning a blind eye to Armstrong’s
activities in favor of the wider profile he could give the sport, insisted
that on his watch the UCI “had always fought against doping”.
Armstrong’s rise to prominence came after he recovered from life-theatening
cancer to win cycling’s greatest race, after a series of doping scandals
tainted the competition in the 1990s.
Verbruggen also said he was glad the American had elected to belatedly
admit his guilt.
“It’s a good thing that Lance Armstrong has finally admitted doping. It’s
not a surprise that he did it,” he added.