Armstrong ‘not surprised’ by French senate’s revelations on 1998 Tour doping

Disgraced seven-time Tour de France winner says cycling ‘screwed’ if doping past not addressed

Lance Armstrong (left) is not surprised Jan Ullrich of Germany (right), who was second in the 1998 Tour de France, has been revealed to have doped on that Tour. Photograph: Reuters

Lance Armstrong (left) is not surprised Jan Ullrich of Germany (right), who was second in the 1998 Tour de France, has been revealed to have doped on that Tour. Photograph: Reuters

Fri, Jul 26, 2013, 01:00

Lance Armstrong said he was not shocked by a French senate inquiry’s findings that the top two in the 1998 Tour de France took the banned blood booster EPO because “virtually all of us broke the rules, and lied about it”.

“I am not surprised,” the disgraced Tour winner said: “As I have said, it was an unfortunate era for all of us.”

Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour titles for doping, did not compete in 1998 because he was battling cancer but the French senate inquiry, published on Wednesday, named him as testing positive for EPO in 1999.

The American called for cycling to address its doping past in a “collective and co-operative manner”.

He said: “If we don’t come together, have the conversation and draw a line in the sand and then move on, we’re all screwed.”

In January, Armstrong admitted having taken performance-enhancing drugs and it came after he was stripped of the Tour titles he won from 1999 to 2005 in October 2012, when the United States Anti-doping Agency said it had uncovered a sophisticated doping programme.

The Italian Marco Pantani, who won the Tour in 1998 and died of a drug overdose in 2004, and Jan Ullrich of Germany, who finished second in 1998, were among those named in the 918-page report compiled by a parliamentary group, who called for a “truth and reconciliation” commission to be created to lift the veil of silence on illegal practices.

Since Armstrong confessed to doping to Oprah Winfrey on her show in January, he has called for a truth and reconciliation programme on several occasions.

Wada, the World Anti-doping Agency, the International Cycling Union and national federations have been wary of the suggestion, although the UCI presidential candidate Brian Cookson has appeared open to the suggestion of Armstrong sharing his past.

Armstrong continued: “I have not been contacted by anyone. I suspect in many ways they (Wada) are afraid of a truth and reconciliation commission as it would fly in the face of the now famous talking point ‘he most sophisticated doping programme in the history of the world’.”

Asked if the senate’s findings would benefit the sport, Armstrong added: “I don’t know. I really don’t. I’d like to think that there is some good in all this but, from my perspective, sitting here today, there has been nothing but damage done to the sport.”

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