• Cycling

UCI faces questions over Armstrong 'triangle'

ESPN staff
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Cycling's governing body has come under criticism for accepting donations from Lance Armstrong while he was under suspicion of using performance-enhancing drugs.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has already acknowledged that it accepted two donations totalling $125,000 (£78,000) from the American in 2002. However, it has strenuously denied that the donations were linked to an alleged cover-up of a positive drugs test by Armstrong during the Tour of Switzerland the previous year.

But Dr Michael Ashenden, a former UCI employee and one of the foremost doping experts in sport, said there were clear conflicts of interest.

Armstrong's former US Postal Service team-mate Tyler Hamilton testified under oath that Armstrong claimed to have had a positive test covered up.

At around the same time, the head of the drug-testing laboratory in Switzerland has admitted meeting Armstrong, while the lab was also allowed free use of the UCI's blood analysing machine.

"The UCI should never have accepted money from Armstrong under any circumstances," Ashenden told BBC Radio 5Live. "But if they took money after they were aware there were grounds to suspect Armstrong had used EPO, it takes on a really sinister complexion.

"We know Armstrong paid the UCI more than $100,000 (£62,000) and around that time the UCI gave the Lausanne laboratory free use of a blood analyser worth $60,000-$70,000.

"That's what I mean by a triangle: the laboratory meets with Armstrong, all of this takes place at about the time that Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton said under oath that Armstrong bragged he had managed to have a result covered up."

The UCI were not available to comment on Monday but have previously strenously denied there was a cover-up of any positive test by Armstrong.

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