LONDON (AFP) — Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins admits he has been shocked by the mountain of evidence against Lance Armstrong after the American was labeled a serial drug cheat by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on Wednesday.
Wiggins has enjoyed the best year of his career after becoming Britain’s first Tour de France winner and then clinching a gold medal in the road time trial at the London Olympics. Wiggins finished fourth behind third-place Armstrong in the 2009 Tour and stands to inherit the American’s podium spot.
USADA on Wednesday published its case file outlining its charges that Armstrong was among the men to mastermind a 14-year doping conspiracy. As a result of the case, Armstrong stands to lose his record seven Tour de France titles.
Wiggins insists he was already suspicious of Armstrong, who maintains his innocence, after persistent rumors of drug use, but even so, the deluge of evidence against the American came as a surprise.
“It’s pretty damning stuff. It is pretty jaw-dropping the amount of people who have testified against him,” Wiggins told Sky News on Thursday. “It is certainly not a one-sided hatchet job, it is pretty damning. I am shocked at the scale of the evidence.
Wiggins, who has spoken out against doping at times during his career and rode for the 2009 season with the staunchly clean Garmin squad, said he wasn’t surprised, however.
“I have been involved in pro cycling for a long time and I realize what it takes to train and win the Tour de France,” he said. “I’m not surprised by it. I had a good idea what is going on.”
Wiggins has no sympathy for the American and admits he is frustrated that Armstrong’s behavior remains the main talking point in cycling at the end of his memorable year.
“My main concern is that I am standing here as the winner of the Tour de France,” Wiggins said. “We are the ones picking these pieces up. For me it is about moving forward and not looking back anymore to what happened 10, 15 years ago.
“It always is (frustrating answering questions about drugs cheats). It is not something which sits easily. Everyone knows where we stand on that, it is about looking forward.”
Wiggins said the example today’s riders are setting is the one that should be the focus of the sport.
“I don’t think that is relevant to what we are doing today,” he said. “What we are doing today is setting the example for our sport.”