News24

Fellow riders back Armstrong

2012-08-25 08:54

Madrid - Lance Armstrong got plenty of support from fellow riders on Friday, and a bit of bemusement from one of his old rivals.

The US Anti-Doping Agency stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and banned him for life after the American decided not to fight charges that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his career.

"It leaves me a bit perplexed, because someone like him, with all the fame and popularity and millions of dollars he has should fight to the end if he's innocent," former rival Filippo Simeoni said from his home in Sezze, Italy, during a lunch break from operating his coffee bar. "But I guess he realised it was a useless fight and the evidence USADA had was too great."

Simeoni welcomed the changes in cycling that have led to stricter doping rules since Armstrong won his seven titles from 1999-2005, but said more should have been done a long time ago.

"That entire decade was one big bluff," Simeoni said.

At the Spanish Vuelta, riders including former rival and team-mate Alberto Contador joined former Armstrong coach Johan Bruyneel in offering support.

"I think he was a cyclist who always showed such strength, great intelligence and spectacular physical conditioning," said Contador, who edged Armstrong for his second Tour title in the first year of his comeback in 2009 and has battled his own doping charges. "We should wait and see what happens at the close before passing judgment."

Bruyneel called Armstrong a victim of an "unjust" legal case.

"I'm disappointed for Lance and for cycling in general that things have reached a stage where Lance feels that he has had enough and is no longer willing to participate in USADA's campaign against him," Bruyneel wrote on his personal website. "Lance has never withdrawn from a fair fight in his life, so his decision today underlines what an unjust process this has been."

The International Cycling Union said it was still awaiting USADA's explanation before deciding whether it would take any action against Armstrong. The organisers of the Tour de France said it would wait to see what both USADA and the UCI do before commenting.

"It's bad news for cycling. Again, it's back to the famous problem of the end of the 1990s and early 2000s. If Armstrong cheated, it's normal he should be sanctioned," two-time Tour champion Bernard Thevenet told French radio. "It's a very strong message to send cyclists and those around them who think about cheating."

If Armstrong is officially stripped of his titles, Jan Ullrich could be promoted to champion in three of those years. Ullrich was stripped of his third-place finish in the 2005 Tour and retired from racing two years later after being implicated in another doping scandal.

"If that actually becomes the case, I'll comment on that then," Ullrich said. "Until then, it's speculation."

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Comments
  • danny.levin.351 - 2012-08-25 09:31

    They can say what they want, he is and will remain a legend and a great example for what a person can achieve. It goes without saying that he is a great role model and provides encouragement to all cancer survivors.

  • louis.langenhoven - 2012-08-25 09:49

    I am so tired of doping in cycling I think they should just scrap the sport because you have a better chance of being right if you believe in WWE

      ianon.ym - 2012-08-25 11:06

      Agreed - lost all interest in the sport - if doping is such a problem let them dope and may the best doped rider win ... at least then we the audience knows where we stand without this constant BS.

      mike.dufham.7 - 2012-08-25 11:25

      Yes Louis, and the sad fact is that Armstrong has still gor supporters. Sounds almost like "Out of Africa" where corruption etc is lauded

  • michael.gibson.3720190 - 2012-08-25 09:56

    The US Anti Doping Agency is a joke. How can they announce that he HAS been stripped of his Tour titles, when in fact neither the ICU or Tour De France organisers have made a decision on the matter? Lance has not outright admitted guilt, just that he is not interested in participating in their 'witch hunt'. I remember reading a long article on this a couple of years back, and the impression I got back then, was that the USADA were out to prove he was guilty at whatever cost. And that seems to be the case. I wonder if Lance has really given up so easily. Time will tell

  • john.mcguinness.9465 - 2012-08-25 09:57

    I think all sportsmen should be able to take what they like. It will totally level the playing field. Imagine a 100metres sprint done in 6.5 seconds.:)

      brian.vanderspuy - 2012-08-25 11:14

      I'm inclined to agree. Nowadays, more or less anything and everything is on the list of forbidden substances or forbidden tactics or forbidden genes, and athletes live in perpetual fear of even accidentally ingesting the wrong thing and then being branded as cheats. Let them dope, I say. Their genes already give them an "unfair advantage." Very often, so do their equipment or training. Even without any drugs, it is frequently already harmful to one's health to do what it takes to reach the top in any sport. I can't see what on earth the fuss about drugs are about, and it smacks of a naive moral crusade masquerading as fairness.

  • jaimie.smart - 2012-08-25 10:03

    If he got away with it all those years, there is no doubt that a lot of cyclist also did (namely the cyclists which 'ratted' him out for lessor sentences who obviosly took performance enhancing drugs but still couldn't beat armstrong) They are just chasing him because of his name and his titles. Guilty or not he will always be a champion and remembered for all the good he has done through his foundation.

  • solna.namibia - 2012-08-25 10:10

    The idiots at the USADA are a bunch of wankers, how can they tell the UCI that they are stripping Lance of his achievements, they have no power or jurisdiction, typical American organisation run by dickless individuals who think that they can bully everyone, need i remind anyone, tested 500 times willingly and never a positive return, what a witch hunt the USADA has never even made their so called findings public, last i checked one was innocent until proven guilty. Lance has walked away because he has had enough and why spend money proving innocence when there is no proof of wrong doing. Obviously Lance pissed the head of the USADA off somehow, maybe it is because Lance has more balls than he does and Lance has none, i rest my case.

  • bokmaster - 2012-08-25 10:22

    There is more to this than meets the eye. The real fight here is not to do with Lance Armstrong at all. He is merely being used in the bigger power struggle that does and has for a long time existed between ICU and The USADA. He just happens to be a world class athlete that whose every move makes headlines and can therefore be used to further any agenda by the agencies who are related to sport, whatever their motive. Drugs are a problem in cycling, of this their is no doubt, but to try and force an outcome in your favour by using this method is a little like winning a world boxing title in the absence of the champion. It might look right on paper but thats all it is, a paper victory. Long live the true heroes, the sports legends who through their God given talents, hard work and commitment, make our lives just a bit easier by providing us with entertainment, excitement and someting to strive for.

  • michael.barns.1 - 2012-08-25 10:24

    very different when its your competitors speaking about you, to what your team mates speak about you... sad that some peoples heroes now a days always turn out to be cheats.

  • doug.norris.581 - 2012-08-25 10:26

    What has happened to the principle of double jeopardy. He was tested for drugs many times when he was participating and no problems found. Now the all powerful have the right to reopen the case! Something fundamentally wrong, I think. I would have thought that Armstong could appeal for his rights under the Fifth Amendment which I understand is in place to protect people from Witch Hunts that wear someone down into submission when it has been previously shown that there is no case against that person. There should be no burden of proof on Armstrong's part to prove his innocence - that has already been done when he was subjected to drug tests.

  • dawn.d.villiers - 2012-08-25 10:32

    I wonder how many people will be out of jobs now that they can no longer chase after Lance Armstrong.

  • delish7564 - 2012-08-25 11:29

    Can't say I blame Lance for giving up the fight. Even if he is innocent and again it seems to be "Guilty until proved innocent", it must take a lot of eneregy to constantly fight these cases, not to mention the financial strain. OK so he "allegedly" cheated,it should be up to these "Official" orgainisations to prove it beyond doubt or shut up, however, I would guess if they are on a "witch-hunt", which they seem to be, he is dammed if he does and dammed if he doesn't. In any event he can't win and this makes a complete mockery of any Justice system! If the cheating has been going on for so long, I'm quite sure they could have caught him before now if they had really wanted to, I think it suits their purpose to chase him now that he has retired and will not give cycling the bad publicity it would have got if he had still been competing. I don't agree with any form of cheating but if he was and for so long, then I definitely think the one thing it does show is a HUGE flaw in the anti-doping tests and that should be examined and less of the persecution and defamatory remarks. As for those who have testified against him, sounds like sour grapes to me - you don't wait for sooooo long before you make such allegations against someone, you deal with it there and then. This whoe thing stinks :(

  • dean.mark.williams - 2012-08-25 11:39

    who next? Miguel Indurain, after all he won 5 consecutive titles as well

  • PETESKEAT - 2012-08-25 14:22

    Marion Jones, the American sprinter, had plenty of support too, until she could no longer withhold the truth. It stretches the imagination to think that the USADA would pursue this matter without having sufficient evidence.

  • mabeeden - 2012-08-25 17:48

    He is guilty and should pay the consequences. If he was innocent he would be fighting tooth and nail.

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