Spanish rider José Luis Rubiera says he “never saw” Lance Armstrong dope during their time together and says the Texan was the “best of the peloton” at the time.
In an interview with the Spanish daily Dario de Mallorca, the ex-pro, who rode alongside Armstrong during five of the Texan’s seven Tour wins, defended his former boss.
“I never saw him dope. The rules keep changing and you have to measure every era according to its context,” Rubiera said. “Against all the riders of that time, or at least against the majority, Armstrong was the best. There were others who were close, like (Jan) Ullrich, (Ivan) Basso and (Alex) Zulle, but without a doubt, Armstrong was the best and he demonstrated that by winning seven Tours.”
Rubiera, who retired after the 2010 season, also admitted he worked two seasons with controversial Italian doctor Michele Ferrari, who was at the center of the Armstrong doping ring.
“(Ferrari) was and remains the best trainer. And to train with him had its price,” Rubiera said. “I worked with him for two seasons and I learned a lot about training and nutrition, but I decided to leave him because he seemed very expensive. I do not have to hide that I worked with a sport scientist.”
Rubiera also shot back at former Armstrong teammates who testified that they saw and participated in doping activities, accusing them of protecting their interests.
“They’re watching their own personal interests,” Rubiera said. “They admitted they did something, and by collaborating, they reduce their penalties. They’re paying six months of suspension for what others have paid two years. If they’re as sorry as they say they are and they want to save cycling, they should donate all the money they won during their career. That would be a good gesture.”