Johannesburg: Former International Cycling Union (UCI) boss Hein Verbruggen has strongly dismissed a report in a Dutch newspaper on Thursday that claimed he still supported dishonored cycling icon Lance Armstrong in the doping scandal.
Verbruggen, who was UCI president from 1991 to 2005, during the time of Armstrong`s seven consecutive Tour de France wins, was quoted in De Telegraaf as saying: “Lance Armstrong has never been tested positive including by the USADA (the US Anti-Doping Agency)."
“There is therefore not a trace of proof,” Verbruggen, who is now UCI honorary president, allegedly told the Dutch paper.
However Verbruggen issued a strong-worded statement criticising the ‘tone of De Telegraaf`s article which unjustly states that despite USADA`s dossier I still insist there is no proof’ against Armstrong.
Verbruggen also dismissed comments in which he allegedly criticised Kathy LeMond, the outspoken wife of three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond.
The Dutch paper claimed LeMond accused Verbruggen earlier this week of taking a bribe offered by Nike in 1999 to make a positive dope test by Armstrong disappear, a claim which Verbruggen then claimed was so absurd it was not worth an official statement.
“While the impression was made that it was about a full interview, I just sent the said gentlemen (at De Telegraaf) a few SMSs (text messages),” Sports24 quoted Verbruggen, as saying in an official UCI statement.
“I was merely reacting to Mrs. LeMond`s statement. My singular and only reaction was that Lance Armstrong has never tested positive by a drug laboratory, that there was no positive test and therefore it not could have been hidden,” he added.