Lance Armstrong’s former team-mate Tyler Hamilton has responded to UCI president Pat McQuaid’s assertion that he and Floyd Landis were “scumbags” by saying that the Irishman has no place in cycling.
McQuaid made his comment about the former US Postal Services riders following a press conference in Aigle, Switzerland on Monday in which he announced that the UCI had accepted the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) decision to strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles.
Hamilton and Landis were among the 26 individuals who testified to USADA about the systematic doping programme in place at the American team, but McQuaid said the pair should not be hailed as heroes given that they had contested positive tests during their own careers and lied many times in front of the courts.
“Pat McQuaid’s comments expose the hypocrisy of his leadership and demonstrate why he is incapable of any meaningful change,” said Hamilton yesterday. “Instead of seizing an opportunity to instil hope for the next generation of cyclists, he continues to point fingers, shift blame and attack those who speak out, tactics that are no longer effective. Pat McQuaid has no place in cycling.”
In response, McQuaid poured scorn on the apparent lionisation of Hamilton and Landis for providing evidence about the doping system in place at the US Postal Services team.
“Landis started it,” said McQuaid. “He was in a bottomless hole and he said the only way out of it was to bring the sport down. That’s what he intended doing and what he intends doing, but he won’t achieve it,” McQuaid told reporters.
“Another thing that annoys me is that Landis and Hamilton are being made out to be heroes. They are as far from heroes as night and day. They are not heroes, they are scumbags. All they have done is damage the sport.”
Many within the sport believe Armstrong has little, if any, chance of restoring his reputation but Miguel Indurain, five-time winner of the Tour de France, insists the Texan is innocent and will appeal the UCI’s decision to strip him of his titles.
“Even now I believe in his innocence. He has always respected all the rules,” Indurain told a radio station in Spain. “I’m a bit surprised [by the verdict]. It’s strange that this was only based on testimonies.”
Armstrong, said the Spaniard, is “a tireless fighter, he’s got that in his DNA. And that’s why even if the damage to his image is irreparable, I imagine he’ll appeal to CAS.
“I would be surprised if he didn’t do [an appeal], because although I understand perfectly that he’s tired of this story, things can’t stay like this. It’s in his hands.”
Meanwhile, McQuaid has defended his decision to take journalist Paul Kimmage to court in Switzerland on December 12 after the former claimed defamatory remarks were made about him by his fellow Irishman.
McQuaid has received widespread condemnation from many within the sport for deciding to go after the man who many believe has done more for the anti-doping movement than any rider or cycling official past or present but the head of the sport’s governing body remained steadfast yesterday.
Speaking to Pat Kenny on RTÉ Radio, McQuaid said, “First of all, let me separate the Lance Armstrong affair with Paul Kimmage. They are two separate things. Paul Kimmage and David Walsh have done a very good job in Ireland of linking the two when in actual fact, they’re completely separate. Paul Kimmage was informed by me and the UCI last January about this [court case] because of a statement he made where he called me corrupt and he called the UCI corrupt. That’s libel. I will not accept that. This has nothing to do with Paul Kimmage, author of Rough Ride. This has nothing to do with Paul Kimmage, the anti-doping advocate. This has nothing to do with the Paul Kimmage that I knew very well as a cyclist. This is to do with a journalist who went over the line and who called me corrupt and I will not accept that on my behalf nor on my family’s, who are still living in Ireland,” blasted McQuaid.
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