Cycling: I believe that Lance Armstrong is innocent, says Miguel Indurain

 

Miguel Indurain, who won the Tour five times, was a lone voice of support for Lance Armstrong yesterday in claiming that he did not believe the disgraced cyclist had taken drugs.

"Even now I believe in his innocence," he said. "He has always respected all the rules. I'm a bit surprised. It's a bit strange that this was only based on testimonies."

As another former team mate of Armstrong's, Steffen Kjaergaard, admitted to drug taking, a leading anti-doping official believes the Armstrong scandal will go on as long as major figures in cycling's international governing body that were in place over the last 13 years remain in office.

Armstrong's seven Tour de France titles between 1999 and 2005 have now been wiped from his Twitter profile as well as the International Cycling Union's records. But John Fahey, the World Anti-Doping Agency president, said: "I look forward to seeing what they propose to do to ensure this doesn't happen again.

"They have to ask themselves: 'Are those same people still in the sport and can they proceed with those people remaining?' They need to get confidence back into the sport so that its millions of supporters will watch."

Tyler Hamilton, Armstrong's former team-mate who along with Floyd Landis was called a "scumbag" by Pat McQuaid for testifying against the Texan, said the UCI president has discredited the sport. "Instead of seizing an opportunity to instill hope for the next generation of cyclists, he continues to point fingers, shift blame and attack those who speak out. Pat McQuaid has no place in cycling." Hamilton said.

Christian Prudhomme, the Tour de France director, believes results between 1999 and 2005 should be annulled and Armstrong must pay back his winnings. He said: "The UCI rules are clear. When a rider is disqualified, he must pay the prize money back."

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