Verbruggen rejects Armstrong 'cover-up' claim

Former world cycling chief Hein Verbruggen has dismissed Lance Armstrong’s suggestion that he helped to hush up a positive drug test for the American.

Verbruggen rejects Armstrong 'cover-up' claim

Former world cycling chief Hein Verbruggen has dismissed Lance Armstrong’s suggestion that he helped to hush up a positive drug test for the American.

Armstrong claimed last month that the former president of the sport’s governing body, the UCI, was involved in a cover-up of a positive test for a corticosteroid found in a cream for saddle sores in 1999, the year the American won his first of seven Tour de France titles.

Armstrong has since admitted backdating a prescription to give himself an exemption, telling the Daily Mail: “Hein just said, ’This is a real problem for me. This is the knockout punch for our sport, the year after Festina, so we’ve got to come up with something.’ So we backdated the prescription.”

Verbruggen denied Armstrong’s claim at the time, saying the incident was outside of the jurisdiction of the UCI and adding: “There was nothing to cover up.”

The Dutchman expanded on his denial in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, saying: “It’s a bull**** story and nothing else. Never, ever would I have had a conversation saying, ’We have to take care of this’.

“It may very well be that he or somebody else from the team has given me a call and my first reaction was, ’S***. We had this Festina problem and now this.’ But that’s a very long way to concluding we have to do something about it.

“How can I take care of something that is known already by the laboratory, that is known already by the French Ministry [which conducted the test], that is known by the UCI, the anti-doping people at the UCI? It’s ridiculous.”

He added: “You will never, ever find any cover-up in the UCI while I was president, and I’m sure afterwards neither.”

Verbruggen accused the 42-year-old of having “his own agenda”, adding that with Armstrong there is “always an interest also in money”.

Verbruggen left his position as UCI president in 2005 but is still an International Olympic Committee member.

However, he said he was ready to exit sport for good as he was “fed up”.

“My reputation has suffered,” Verbruggen said. “But I don’t care very much about it. Lance, he’s an icon. I’m not. Who knows me? Only people in sport.”

Armstrong was banned from cycling for life and stripped of his Tour de France titles last year, admitting to doping.

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