Former UCI boss denies Armstrong doping cover-up

May 23, 2011 - 11:45 AM
Armstrong Doping Cycling

FILE - This March 5, 2005, file photo shows Hein Verbruggen, left, president of the International Cycling Union, and cyclist Lance Armstrong, at the launch of the Cycling Pro Tour, in Paris. Verbruggen has denied allegations that the governing body covered up a suspicious drug test result by Armstrong at the 2001 Tour de Suisse. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

GENEVA (AP) — Former international cycling chief Hein Verbruggen on Monday denied allegations that the governing body covered up a suspicious drug test result by Lance Armstrong at the 2001 Tour de Suisse.

Verbruggen, the International Cycling Union president at the time, told The Associated Press that Armstrong's doping controls had never been hidden.

"There has never, ever been a cover-up. Not in the Tour de Suisse, not in the Tour de France," the Dutch official said in a telephone interview. "I don't know anything about suspicious tests. I was not aware of that."

Armstrong's former teammate Tyler Hamilton said in a "60 Minutes" television interview that aired Sunday that the seven-time Tour champion used the blood-boosting hormone EPO to prepare for the 2001 Tour de France.

Hamilton alleged that Armstrong told him the UCI helped cover up a positive test at the Swiss warm-up event.

Armstrong, who denies doping and never tested positive for banned drugs, won in Switzerland before completing the third of his record seven consecutive Tour de France victories.

CBS' "60 Minutes" also reported that UCI officials helped arrange a meeting involving Armstrong and the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory at Lausanne, which tested the Swiss race samples.

Verbruggen said he had no knowledge of such a meeting.

Tour de Suisse spokesman Rolf Huser told the AP that organizers knew nothing about the race test results, which are conducted by cycling federations and anti-doping agencies.

"We are never in the loop about doping controls. We have to be neutral," Huser said. "We can't say anything about these rumors from 2001. We had the (race) results, and everything was OK."

The Tour de Suisse allegations are similar to those made by Floyd Landis, who had his 2006 Tour de France title stripped for doping. After years of denying he cheated, Landis came out last year acknowledging he used PEDs and alleged Armstrong did, as well.

Verbruggen and his successor as UCI president, Pat McQuaid, are suing Landis in a Swiss court for saying that the governing body protected star riders from doping allegations.

"There's no reason that I should continue to prove my innocence — let people prove that we are guilty," Verbruggen said Monday.