Armstrong: Amnesty the only way to save cycling

Banned former world champion says via email that the UCI has no place at the table in moving cycling forward

PARIS (AFP) — Lance Armstrong has said that a truth and reconciliation commission is the only way for cycling to move on from its drug-addled past, warning that doing nothing would consign the sport to stagnation and decline.

The 41-year-old, who this month admitted that he used a cocktail of banned drugs to win the Tour de France a record seven times, told in emailed comments: “It’s [a commission] not the best way, it’s the only way.

“As much as I’m in the eye of the storm, this is not about one man, one team, one director. This is about cycling and to be frank it’s about ALL endurance sports. Publicly lynching one man and his team will not solve this problem.”

The Union Cyclist International (UCI) banned Armstrong for life last year and stripped him of his career record back to August 1998 after a damning U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) dossier accused him of orchestrating the biggest doping program in the history of sport.

The revelations of his use of performance enhancing drugs have rocked the sport, with its governing body accused of turning a blind eye to his activities and mass doping within the peloton.

The UCI is currently at loggerheads with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and USADA over the creation of a truth and reconciliation commission and in particular an amnesty for drug cheats.

Armstrong claimed that he suggested setting up a commission to UCI president Pat McQuaid “many months ago” but the idea was rejected out of hand. The Texan also called the Irishman “pathetic” and claimed he was protecting himself.

Without an amnesty “no one will show up,” Armstrong added, claiming that no generation of professional riders was exempt from doping, but WADA should be in charge of the process and “the UCI has no place at the table.”

Asked about an alternative, he said: “Cycling will never die it will just simmer. Zero growth. Sponsors leaving, races cancelled — this we are seeing.

“This current state of chaos and petty bullshit, tit for tat, etc., will just ensure that cycling goes flat or negative for a decade-plus, which is a real shame for the current crop of young pros the sport has.”