Monday March 9th, 2015

A report from the Cycling Independent Reform Commission slammed former Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and the International Cycling Union saying that those in cycling’s top positions ignored decades of rampant doping by Armstrong and others.

A three-member commission issued a 227-page report detailing how Armstrong’s winning and influence in the sport lead officials to ignore drug use but also accused his lawyer of writing and editing a report of a previous investigation that looked into Armstrong’s doping.

The report also zeroes in on Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid, two former presidents of the UCI who were close to Armstrong. But the report found nothing to support allegations that Armstrong paid the UCI to cover up a previous positive drug test, but the report goes on to explain the union’s favorable attitude toward Armstrong, calling him was “cycling’s pop star.”

“There are numerous examples that prove Lance Armstrong benefited from a preferential status afforded by the UCI leadership," the report said. "UCI did not actively seek to corroborate whether allegations of doping against Lance Armstrong were well-founded [but] fell back to a defensive position as if every attack against Lance Armstrong was an attack against cycling and the UCI leadership.

According to the report, Armstrong’s first Tour de France victory in 1998 was catalyst for the union ignoring subsequent investigations. Armstrong’s victory came just a year after the race was nearly canceled after a police raid.

“Lance Armstrong was considered as a veritable icon by the institution: a cancer survivor who had managed to beat his disease, helped the sport to recover and to return some credibility to UCI,” the report says.

Armstrong apologized and says he welcomes a report that will look into cycling’s doping problems.

“I am deeply sorry for many things I have done. However, it is my hope that revealing the truth will lead to a bright, dope-free future for the sport I love, and will allow all young riders emerging from small towns throughout the world in years to come to chase their dreams without having to face the lose-lose choices that so many of my friends, team-mates and opponents faced," Armstrong said.

Armstrong was stripped of all seven of his Tour de France victories in 2012 and banned for life after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued a report saying Armstrong and his US Postal Service Pro Cycling teammates “ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

Armstrong continued to deny doping until he finally admitted to using performance enhancing drugs in a television interview with Oprah Winfrey in January 2013.

- Scooby Axson

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