Armstrong blasts UCI boss Cookson


Published: Tuesday 27th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Lance Armstrong has hit out at International Cycling Union president Brian Cookson for failing to take the tough approach on doping that he promised.

Former head of British Cycling Cookson was elected president of the world governing body in September 2013, when he beat incumbent Pat McQuaid after a bitter battle.

The Briton had been highly critical of McQuaid’s tenure and vowed to clean up the sport.

The Armstrong scandal was undoubtedly the nadir but the disgraced former cyclist has now criticised Cookson for not being tough enough.

Armstrong told the BBC: “If McQuaid had made the same decisions Cookson has made in his first year, he would have been lynched. Do we like what we have got so far?”

Chief among Armstrong’s complaints is the failure to ban Astana, the team Armstrong rode for on his return to the sport in 2009 and for whom Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour de France last year.

Five riders failed drugs tests within a short space of time last year, but the UCI opted not to revoke the team’s WorldTour licence, instead keeping them on probation.

Armstrong also criticised Cookson for failing to force the likes of Astana team boss Alexander Vinokourov and Tinkoff-Saxo’s Bjarne Riis, both of whom have a doping past, to co-operate with the panel set up to investigate the sport’s darkest days.

Armstrong has talked to the commission and is hoping it may prompt his lifetime ban from sport to be overturned.

“If I’m Brian Cookson, I would make it a deal point that you have to come in and talk,” said the American.

“So if Riis doesn’t talk to you, or Vinokourov doesn’t, there should be consequences. I don’t know those to be examples, but I can imagine. If you don’t come in to talk, you don’t just get passed.”

Armstrong did, though, apologise for the scrutiny British riders Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome found themselves under during and after their Tour de France victories.

The 43-year-old was stripped of his seven Le Tour titles in 2012, the year Wiggins won, following an investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

Armstrong said: “I’m sorry, and I completely agree that, because of the timing of things, it is down to me.

“Froome won the Tour in 2013, that’s 14 years after 1999. If in 1999 I was asked questions about the 1985 winner of the Tour de France, I’d be like, ‘What are you talking about? Why are you asking me about the mid-80s?’

“I feel bad for those guys; they shouldn’t have been put in that position.”

Published: Tuesday 27th January 2015 by The News Editor

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