Armstrong scandal impacts on Verbruggen: ‘The amount of negative publicity has demolished his reputation’
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Armstrong scandal impacts on Verbruggen: ‘The amount of negative publicity has demolished his reputation’

by VeloNation Press at 6:21 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
SportAccord colleague Ingrid Beutler says that Dutchman has been badly affected by fallout

Hein VerbruggenHein Verbruggen’s years-long defence of Lance Armstrong, his insistence two years ago that the American had ‘never, never, never’ doped and the UCI’s acceptance of donations from the Texan has put the former UCI president in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, although he remains defiant and states he has done nothing wrong.

However one of his colleagues from the SportAccord organisation has said that while that body’s president Hein Verbruggen has her full support, that she believes the fallout from the USADA affair and Armstrong’s admission of doping has had a profound effect on the Dutchman.

“The amount of negative publicity has demolished his reputation,” said SportAccord's director of social responsibility and integrity units Ingrid Beutler, according to Insidethegames.biz.

“I cannot make any comments on whether he has been involved, of course we can only know that through a court of law. But, yes, it has seriously affected him.”

Verbruggen stood down as UCI president in 2005, the final year in Armstrong’s now-stripped seven Tour-winning sequence. Since then he was involved in setting up the SportAccord organisation and has been its president. He successfully gained an additional four year term in 2011, but will stand down this year.

According to Beutler, that decision is nothing to do with the Armstrong scandal. “He decided two years ago that he would finish his term [as SportAccord President], he decided he will finish two years into his term,” she stated. “It was decision that was made well before the Armstrong case.”

Although he vouched for Armstrong on multiple occasions, Verbruggen has changed his stance since the Texan was handed a lifetime ban from the US Anti Doping Agency. His position now is that he had doubts since Armstrong had suspicious test readings for EPO during the 2001 Tour de Suisse, but that he never had enough proof to do anything about it.

However that version of events clashes with his defence of the American against doping allegations over the past decade, including in 2005 when retests of his 1999 samples showed traces of EPO.

The UCI then backed Armstrong, and initially did likewise when Floyd Landis made allegations of doping against him during early 2010. Verbruggen told AD.nl in 2011 that he was certain the former US Postal Service leader was a clean rider.

“That's impossible [referring to suggestions that the UCI helped shield Armstrong in 2011 – ed.], because there is nothing. I repeat once again: Lance Armstrong has never used doping,” he told AD.nl. “Never, never, never.”

Verbruggen has since accepted publically that Armstrong was a long-term doper, and that the UCI was wrong to accept substantial donations from him.

Despite the damage to Verbruggen’s reputation, Beutler said that he had done important work with SportAccord and that he had her full trust.

“Under the Presidency of Verbruggen the organisation has been able to move forward in a way that perhaps would not have been possible under any other Presidency,” she insisted.

“I came in two years ago, he gave me a clean slate to tackle the problems the sports movement is confronting, identified match-fixing and governances - two key issues that needed addressing and I've had the liberty and the freedom to tackle those issues.

“I'm thankful for the leadership he has provided, despite what has happened in the past.”

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