UK & World News

  • 12 October 2012, 2:48

Lance Armstrong: Wiggins 'Shocked' By Evidence

Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins has told Sky News there can now be no doubt that Lance Armstrong was a drugs cheat.

A devastating report by the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) into the conduct of the seven-times Tour de France champion concluded he was at the centre of the most sophisticated doping scheme in the history of sport.

Wiggins said the evidence against Armstrong, who is still regarded as a sporting icon by some, was "irrefutable".

Armstrong has been stripped of all his Tour de France titles by Usada and banned from the sport for life.

The organisation claimed - based partly on the evidence of 11 fellow cyclists - that he orchestrated "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

The 41-year-old American denies all the allegations, but Wiggins told Sky News: "It's pretty damning stuff. It is pretty 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. I had a good idea what is going on."

But Wiggins defended his sport, insisting that cycling had since changed, saying: "A lot of this stuff happened nearly 15 years ago, the sport has changed considerably.

"We are one of the most successful sports for catching people."

He said it was extremely sad for the Tour de France, adding: "This historical race is going to be without a winner for seven years. I mean what happens to those history books?"

Armstrong, who recovered from cancer to dominate professional cycling, announced in August that he would not fight the doping charges filed against him by Usada, saying he was "finished with this nonsense" and insisting he was innocent.

The report, which has now been made public, also claims Armstrong supplied banned drugs to other riders on his USPS team, pressured them into participating in the doping programme and threatened to get them removed from the team if they refused.

The 1,000-page document contains grisly details about the drug-taking - from hotel rooms turned into blood-transfusion centres to the way the cyclist's ex-wife handed out cortisone pills.

But the Lance Armstrong Foundation cancer charity expressed doubts about the Usada report, saying it compounded its "long-standing concerns about the impartiality and fairness of Usada's proceedings".

The International Olympic Committee said it was looking into Usada's case against Armstrong to see if there was enough evidence to open an investigation that could result in the stripping of Olympic medals.

Bronze medals won by Armstrong in 2000 and former teammate Levi Leipheimer, who was among the cyclists who testified against Armstrong and also confessed to doping, in 2008 could come under scrutiny.

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