BEIJING (AFP) — World cycling chief Pat McQuaid insisted the sport had moved on from its murky past Saturday as the Union Cycliste Internationale comes under pressure to respond to doping evidence against Tour de France icon Lance Armstrong.
McQuaid admitted the sport had suffered “big damage” from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s release of its Reasoned Decision in the Armstrong investigation, but he said better tests meant riders were now much cleaner than when the American ruled the Tour with an iron fist.
“The sport has moved on,” McQuaid told AFP at the Tour of Beijing. “The peloton today is completely different. There is big damage to the image of the sport, but the sport is going very well.”
Armstrong, who has always denied taking banned substances, stands accused by USADA of being at the heart of “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program” ever seen in sport.
The UCI has yet to respond to USADA’s 1,000-page supporting document, which raises questions about how Armstrong apparently managed to evade detection, and contains a claim that he paid a bribe to hush up a positive test.
The body also has yet to endorse or appeal USADA’s move to ban Armstrong from cycling for life and strip him of his Tour titles.
“The UCI has received the dossier two days ago, 1,000 pages, and so our lawyers are studying that at the moment and we have 21 days to come up with a response,” McQuaid said earlier this week.
“It would be wrong of me to second-guess or pre-empt what our lawyers might decide, so I’d wait until then. The UCI will wait until that work has been done and then the UCI will make a statement.”