LONDON, Dec 18, 2013 (AFP) – Former head of world cycling Hein Verbruggen
has angrily rejected claims from Lance Armstrong that he helped to cover up a
positive drug test for the disgraced American cyclist.
Last month, Armstrong alleged that in 1999 Verbruggen, the former president
of the UCI, encouraged him to hush up a positive test for a banned
corticosteroid found in a cream for saddle sores.
It was the year that Armstrong won the first of his seven Tour de France
titles — all of which have since been expunged — and the Texan claimed that
Verbruggen was eager to avoid another doping scandal in the wake of the affair
concerning the Festina team in 1998.
Armstrong told British newspaper the Daily Mail: “Hein just said, ‘This is
a real problem for me. This is the knockout punch for our sport, the year
after Festina, so we’ve got to come up with something.’ So we backdated the
Verbruggen denied the claim at the time and in an interview with the Daily
Telegraph published on Wednesday, he 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.’
The Dutchman added: “It may very well be that he or somebody else from the
team has given me a call and my first reaction was, ‘Shit. We had this Festina
problem, and now this.’ But that’s a very long way to 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.”
He added: “You will never, ever find any cover-up in the UCI while I was
president, and I’m sure afterwards neither.”
Verbruggen, who left his position as UCI president in 2005, also accused
Armstrong of having “his own agenda” and claimed that he was motivated by
Armstrong was banned from cycling for life last year and stripped of his
Tour de France titles after investigators uncovered evidence of a long
campaign of doping.