MADRID (AFP) — Five-time Tour de France champion Miguel Indurain said Tuesday in a Spanish radio interview that he believed in the innocence of Lance Armstrong, whom the UCI banned for life on Monday. With the ban, Indurain is one of four riders (Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault) to return to the top of the Tour annals with a record five overall wins.
“Even now I believe in his innocence. He has always respected all the regulations… He has won all the cases he’s had,” Indurain told Radio Marca.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency relied on witness testimony from 11 former teammates, 15 riders and 26 individuals overall in labeling Armstrong a dope cheat.
“I am a little taken aback. It is strange that this is done only from testimonies,” said Indurain. “Rules were in place and now it seems they have changed.”
World Anti-Doping Agency chief John Fahey on Monday lauded USADA’s use of testimony in pursuing Armstrong, saying that “it has always been incumbent on anti-doping organizations to undertake a more coherent approach to widespread allegations of doping, and it is not sufficient to claim that enough was done just because testing did not lead to analytical violations.”
Indurain added that Armstrong “has always been a fighter. What surprises me is that he doesn’t keep fighting… I think he will come back and appeal and try to show that he played fair for all those years.”
Armstrong waved his right to appeal when he refused arbitration in the USADA case in August.