Cycling

UCI deny Armstrong cover-up

2011-05-23 17:12
Lance Armstrong (File)

Geneva - Former international cycling chief Hein Verbruggen on Monday denied allegations that the governing body covered up a suspicious drug test result by Lance Armstrong at the 2001 Tour de Suisse.

Verbruggen, who was the International Cycling Union (UCI) president at the time, says that Armstrong's doping controls had never been hidden.

"There has never, ever been a cover-up. Not in the Tour de Suisse, not in the Tour de France," the Dutch official said in a telephone interview. "I don't know anything about suspicious tests. I was not aware of that."

Armstrong's former teammate Tyler Hamilton said in a United States television interview which aired Sunday that Armstrong used the blood-boosting hormone EPO to prepare for the 2001 Tour de France.

Hamilton alleged that Armstrong told him the UCI helped cover up a positive test at the Swiss warm-up event.

Armstrong, who denies doping and never tested positive for banned drugs, won in Switzerland before completing the third of his record seven straight Tour de France victories.

The "60 Minutes" program also reported that UCI officials helped arrange a meeting involving Armstrong and the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory at Lausanne which tested the Swiss race samples.

Verbruggen said he had no knowledge of such a meeting.

Tour de Suisse spokesman Rolf Huser told the AP that organisers knew nothing about the race test results, which are conducted by cycling federations and anti-doping agencies.

"We are never in the loop about doping controls. We have to be neutral," Huser said. "We can't say anything about these rumours from 2001. We had the (race) results and everything was OK."

Hamilton's claim regarding the Tour de Suisse was previously made by Floyd Landis. Both riders denied doping during their careers and then later admitted using performance-enhancing drugs.

Verbruggen and his successor as UCI president, Pat McQuaid, are suing Landis in a Swiss court for saying that the governing body protected star riders from doping allegations.

"There's no reason that I should continue to prove my innocence - let people prove that we are guilty," Verbruggen said on Monday.

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