THE HAGUE (AFP) — Former world cycling chief Hein Verbruggen has dismissed allegations that the sport’s governing body covered up for Lance Armstrong after the shamed rider admitted doping in a television interview.
The Dutchman, Union Cycliste Internationale president at the time of Armstrong’s seven Tour de France wins between 1999 and 2005, told the ANP news agency on Friday that the cyclist had put to bed claims of complicity surrounding the sport’s governing body.
“After years of suspicion, I’m happy that this conspiracy was in the end nothing more than an unsubstantiated theory. Those who accused or suspected us are obviously disappointed. Nothing was ever hidden,” he was quoted as saying.
Verbruggen, who has been accused of turning a blind eye to Armstrong’s activities in favor of the wider profile he could give the sport, insisted that on his watch the UCI “had always fought against doping.”
Armstrong’s rise to prominence came after he recovered from life-threatening cancer to win the Tour, after a series of doping scandals tainted the race in the 1990s.
Verbruggen also said he was glad the American had elected to belatedly admit his guilt.
“It’s a good thing that Lance Armstrong has finally admitted doping. It’s not a surprise that he did it,” he said.