Cookson concerned Armstrong may ‘taint’ Wiggins’ Tour win
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Friday, January 11, 2013

Cookson concerned Armstrong may ‘taint’ Wiggins’ Tour win

by VeloNation Press at 7:09 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
British Cycling president vouches for 2012 winner, says Armstrong should get no reduction in ban

Lance ArmstrongWith Lance Armstrong expected to make an admission of doping next week to Oprah Winfrey, British Cycling president Brian Cookson has reiterated his belief that Bradley Wiggins won the 2012 Tour de France clean and has said he is concerned that Armstrong may taint that success.

Cookson has said that he is concerned that Armstrong could try to use his appearance to push for a reduction in his ban or another such benefit to him, and has called on him to speak honestly. He said he doesn’t want to see him tar other riders with the same brush and thus blacken Wiggins.

“For example, he might say ‘you can’t win the Tour without doping’,” Cookson told Manchester Evening News. “I am very happy and confident to say we have got Bradley Wiggins and you can win the Tour drugs free. I have known Bradley since he was a young man and he has proved you can win all the top races without doping.”

Wiggins became friendly with Armstrong after the Texan returned to competition in 2009. During the 2010 Tour de France, he enthused about the rider, despite the fact that he was under federal investigation at the time. “I love him,” Wiggins told the Guardian. “I think he's great. He's transformed the sport in so many ways. Every person in cycling has benefitted from Lance Armstrong, perhaps not financially but in some sense. Even his strongest critics have benefitted from him. I don't think this sport will ever realise what he's brought it or how big he's made it.”

More recently, he has become critical of the American, saying after the USADA reasoned decision landed that Armstrong was dishonest. “His success was built on lies,” he told CQ in November. “I look at him now and I think to myself, ‘He didn’t win those Tours fairly, so maybe this superhuman cycling legend was never as good a rider as me.’ That makes me feel proud that my victories aren’t built on sand.”

Cookson states that he doesn’t believe an admission to Winfrey or to anyone else should benefit Armstrong in terms of his lifetime ban. “I hope he doesn’t get any reduction in that sentence. What he has done is so serious over such a long period of time that he is beyond redemption.

“We don’t want him back in our sport that he has damaged so much. And I doubt whether any other sport want him either.”

Reductions in sanctions are sometimes given if individuals provide information that can help anti-doping authorities to punish others who are involved in aiding others to do so. Despite his call that there should be not concessions given to Armstrong, Cookson said he wants him to say what he knows.

“I just hope Lance tells the whole truth. If he has bribed people to cover up tests or to give him prior notice of tests, he needs to come out with the truth about that and give evidence as well.”

Several of his former US Postal Service team-mates have said that Armstrong told them that he had tested positive during the 2001 Tour de Suisse, but that the UCI would help ensure that there would not be a doping case.

USADA chief Travis Tygart said this week that the head of the Swiss anti-doping agency in Lausanne, Martial Saugy, had admitted to him that he gave the rider information which could subsequently have been used to beat anti-doping tests.

Tygart said that Saugy said he had been instructed by the UCI to meet Armstrong and Bruyneel and to explain the EPO testing process to them.

Saugy is due to hold a press conference today on the subject.

Meanwhile representatives for Winfrey has insisted that she will not go easy on Armstrong during their interview next week. “Armstrong has no editorial control and no question is off-limits,” Nicole Nichols told AFP in an email. She said that the former rider was not being paid for the interview, and that it would be pre-recorded.

This week Armstrong critic Betsy Andreu expressed her doubts that Winfrey would be sufficiently tough on Armstrong, pointing to the talk show host’s previous interviews with the rider, including one carried out when he was already linked to possible doping.

“In 2011, last time he was on her show, she welcomed him on there with a big bear hug. The guy was under a criminal investigation – did she mention that in the interview? No, she said nothing,” she stated.

Andreu said she believed Armstrong would do what he could to derive maximum benefit from the show, and that she didn’t believe he’d show any genuine contrition. “For me, this interview is about garnering public sympathy, and self-aggrandisement. Lance doesn’t do anything without considering Lance first, and only Lance.”


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