THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The former president of the International Cycling Union expects the governing body to respond late next week to allegations by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was a serial drug cheat.
Hein Verbruggen told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday he would not comment on the detailed USADA allegations before the UCI issues a reaction.
“The UCI is studying the USADA report and they will issue a report … toward the end of next week,” Verbruggen said.
The UCI has until Oct. 31 to decide whether to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The Dutchman was UCI president from 1991-2005. Armstrong won the Tour de France seven straight times from 1999-2005
USADA banned Armstrong for life and said he should be stripped of his tour titles because of his involvement in “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
Verbruggen issued a statement through the UCI on Thursday contesting an article in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that said he believed there is no evidence against Armstrong.
“My reaction (to the newspaper) was strictly limited to the fact that Lance Armstrong was never found positive by the anti-doping laboratories, that there was no positive test and that there was nothing to be covered up,” Verbruggen said.
The USADA evidence cites several of Armstrong’s former teammates who detail entrenched doping among riders on Armstrong’s teams during his Tour wins.
While the UCI has not yet given a formal reaction, the USADA report has already cost Armstrong several key sponsors, including Nike and Anheuser-Busch. Armstrong also stepped down Wednesday as chairman of the Livestrong cancer charity he founded.
Nike issued a statement explaining it dropped the sponsorship of the rider “due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade.”