Bradley Wiggins last night admitted he was shocked by the scale of the doping programme orchestrated by Lance Armstrong and frustrated to have to defend his sport.
It was a timely intervention on a difficult day for Team Sky as Sean Yates, the team's director and a long-time acquaintance of Armstrong, denied seeing anything untoward in his time working with the American, and one of the team's riders described the disgraced star as a "legend".
On Wednesday the US Anti- Doping Agency published 1,000 pages of detailed evidence that Armstrong had cheated throughout his seven Tour wins. Dave Brailsford, Sky's general manager and head of British Cycling, acknowledged yesterday that it was "understandable now for people to look at any results in cycling and question them".
Unlike some others in cycling yesterday, Wiggins accepted that the Usada report damns Armstrong. He said: "It is jaw-dropping, the amount of people who have testified against him. It is certainly not a one-sided hatchet job, it is pretty damning. I am shocked at the scale of the evidence. I have been involved in pro cycling for a long time and I realise what it takes to train and win the Tour de France. I'm not surprised by it."
During this year's Tour, which he won with Sky, Wiggins reacted angrily when the subject of doping was raised. He said yesterday: "We are the ones picking these pieces up. For me it is about moving forward and not looking back any more to what happened 10, 15 years ago. It always is [frustrating answering questions about drugs]. It is not something that sits easily. Everyone knows where we stand on that, it is about looking forward. We are one of the most successful sports for catching people."
Yesterday, though, Sky's Alex Dowsett, a Briton who used to ride for Trek-LiveStrong, an Under-23 development team set up by Armstrong, said: "He is still a legend of the sport. A guy who had cancer, came back and won the Tour de France. It was a different sport back then."