sport

Cooke blasts 'bully' Armstrong

Lance Armstrong will never be able to atone for his tainted past, according to Nicole Cooke.

The American was stripped of seven Tour de France titles and banned for life after an United States Anti-doping Agency investigation into his United States Postal Service team's doping practices during his years of supremacy, 1999 to 2005.

Armstrong is reported to have confessed to doping in his interview with Oprah Winfrey, which will be broadcast later this week, while the 41-year-old is also said to have called prominent figures in cycling to apologise for his actions.

Cooke, who retired from the sport on Monday, said: "He will never give back the careers and the opportunities and the dreams that were stolen from so many people.

"It's outrageous, everything that he's done. The bullying, everything else."

Some allies of Armstrong might argue what he has given to the sport of cycling outweighs his many misdemeanours. Cooke, the 2008 Olympic and world road race champion, vehemently disagrees.

"It's absolutely disgusting that point of view," she added.

"You are putting dopers up on a pedestal. Think of the example you are giving to society: doping pays. Cheating pays."

Cycling's world governing body has urged Armstrong to co-operate with the independent review it set-up in the aftermath of the USADA report.

A statement from the UCI read: "The UCI will not be making any further comments on matters concerning Lance Armstrong until it has had the opportunity to view his much publicised interview with Oprah Winfrey.

"The UCI notes the media speculation surrounding the interview and reports that he has finally come clean and admitted doping during his cycling career.

"If these reports are true, we would strongly urge Lance Armstrong to testify to the Independent Commission established to investigate the allegations made against the UCI in the recent USADA reasoned decision on Lance Armstrong and the United States Postal Service (USPS) team."

It was reported that International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound has raised the prospect of imposing punitive measures against cycling, proposing it could be dropped from the Olympics for a period to provide the UCI with impetus to clean up the sport.

Such a decision would be a dramatic step, and would require strong support from the IOC, which has over 100 members.

Pound, the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, could not be reached for comment.

The reigning Olympic time-trial champion Sir Bradley Wiggins is keen to see the Armstrong saga and the doping culture which involved other riders consigned to cycling's past.

Wiggins told Sky News: "It'll be a great day for a lot of people and quite a sad day for the sport in some ways but I think it has been a sad couple of months for the sport, in that sense, because the nineties are pretty much a write-off now."

He added of Armstrong: "You wouldn't have thought he could keep playing this denial game for too long.

"He'll be advised of what he can and can't say, which will help or hinder the lawsuits that are going to follow behind if he does admit."