MADRID (AFP) — A Spanish doctor who worked with Lance Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service team on Wednesday denied being part of a doping network, after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency banned him for life earlier this year. Meanwhile, in Paris, Armstrong’s inner-team rival at Astana during his comeback in 2009, Alberto Contador, hit out at the investigation, which he claimed unfairly smeared the former world champion’s name.
“It appears to me, that in more than a few places, they are not treating Lance with any respect at all; they are humiliating and lynching him, at least from my point of view. They are destroying him,” Contador told EFE. “They are speaking about Lance now, but there is not any sort of new proof or anything. They’ve based everything on witnesses that talked in 2005. I respect the decision of every rider, but I would have liked that they did things earlier. We are controlled to the maximum. We have to be available at every moment. The measures that we have now are at the maximum they can be.”
While Contador lent an unlikely defense to Armstrong, with whom he tangled when both men rode with Johan Bruyneel at Astana in 2009, Luis Garcia Del Moral hit back at U.S. investigators over his lifetime ban.
As part of its investigation into the 14-year doping conspiracy centered on Armstrong, USADA accused Luis Garcia Del Moral, who worked with the Postal Service team between 1999 and 2003, of helping the Texan and his teammates take banned substances and conduct blood transfusions.
The doctor said in a statement that he played no part in any doping network and “never incited the use of doping substances” during his time with the team.
“During my years as doctor for U.S. Postal, I never witnessed organized doping in the team nor incited it personally,” he said. “As a doctor, my actions were to maintain the health of cyclists and oversee their physical performance.”
Garcia Del Moral went on to say that USADA agents first contacted him in June 2012 to respond to the claims of several witnesses, including former Postal Service riders. He said that USADA recommended that he gave evidence against Armstrong and if he did so, no action would be taken against him for his role.
The UCI this week confirmed USADA’s lifetime ban for Armstrong — arguably cycling’s most recognizable figure — and stripped his seven Tour de France victories.
Garcia Del Moral did not respond to USADA’s charges earlier this year, leading the agency to hand him a lifetime ban along with trainer Jose “Pepe” Martí and Italian doctor Michele Ferrari.
Garcia Del Moral is disputing the decision on the grounds that he had never seen the agency’s complete report on “the Armstrong system.”
The Spanish anti-doping agency on October 12 raised the possibility of court action against Garcia Del Moral over claims that illegal doping activities took place in the country.
Andrew Hood in Paris contributed to this report.