Three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond believes the impending release of documents relating to Lance Armstrong’s lifetime ban from cycling is “the best thing” to happen to the sport.
In June, Armstrong was accused by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) of doping during his career, using EPO, blood transfusions, corticosteroids and growth hormones, as well as facilitating doping by his team-mates and conspiring to cover up doping activities. He declined to fight the charges and was subsequently stripped of his seven Tour titles and LeMond believes it is time “justice is served”.
“This is the best thing to happen cycling. But, what I don’t get is why should he [Armstrong] get out of jail? Basically why should he be forgiven while everyone else is paying a price? I mean, [Marco] Pantani is no longer living. He was ostracised for having a high hematocrit. Dopers have had their careers ruined — Tyler [Hamilton], Floyd [Landis], and been penalised for it and they paid the price. Armstrong has gotten caught, he needs to pay the price just like everybody else. That’s the only way justice will be served.”
LeMond believes cycling’s government body, UCI, should remove themselves from the role of drug testers, with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and USADA charged with that task.
“If this stops at Armstrong [nothing has changed]. I would love to see [UCI president] Pat McQuaid say, ‘let’s separate the drug testing, let’s work and make the sport bulletproof as much as we can and let’s remove ourselves from this task’. Then they’re credible and they can do what they do best and run races and promote the sport.
“But they shouldn’t be in the field of drug testing because that should be done by WADA, USADA and independent bodies. Then they don’t have to defend themselves or worry about somebody calling them corrupt.”
But LeMond believes there must be an urgent change of mindset at the UCI.
“They must work with European governments, there’s got to be a way [to eradicate doping and suspicion of same]. Bring in the best scientists and that’s really what the sport needs. But I will lose all hope if the UCI doesn’t change. I will say, ‘screw this sport’.”
lLeMond was in Dublin yesterday as guest speaker for the official launch of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) Awareness week. He will speak at an information evening, open to the public, in the Pillar Room of the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin tomorrow night (7.30pm to 9.30pm).
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