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UCI president: Armstrong had me fooled

ESPN staff
May 29, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Lance Armstrong was using doping products that were undetectable during his seven Tour de France victories © PA Photos
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UCI president Pat McQuaid admits he was 'fooled' by Lance Armstrong, but insists that cycling's governing body did not make any mistakes in their dealing with the fallout of his doping admission that saw the American stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

McQuaid, who took over as UCI president in 2005, the year of Armstrong's last Tour de France victory, is still waiting for an apology and any information the disgraced cyclist may have that could prevent such a scandal engulfing the sport in the future.

But the Irishman is adamant that he will not step down from his post despite overseeing one of the most damaging periods in cycling's history and reiterated his belief that the UCI is at the forefront of the battle against doping.

"I do not think the UCI made mistakes," McQuaid told reporters an international sports conference in Russia. "The statistics show the UCI was the most advanced in the fight against doping."

Armstrong admitted in January that he had doped throughout his seven-year domination of cycling's blue riband event after a USADA investigation had stripped him of his Yellow Jerseys in 2012 and expunged his name from the record books from 1998 onwards, following his recovery from testicular cancer.

It was Armstrong's dramatic return from a life-threatening illness to the head of the peloton that duped the future UCI president, along with the lack of evidence against the American.

"I was fooled," McQuaid said. "I believed the was no way a man so close to death would go and start putting stuff into his body that could be dangerous. My experiences as a cyclist convinced me he was real.

"There were no tests available for the products [Armstrong was using]," McQuaid added. "Ten or 15 years ago the armoury was weaker. The doping system was weak."

Asked whether he considered resigning over the affair, the Irishman was defiant. "No, because I firmly believe I am making a difference," McQuaid insisted. "I want to eradicate doping. I want to see this thing through. I want to finish what I started."

"There is a change in the peloton. Every little thing I am bringing in is making a difference."

Asked what help Armstrong could offer, McQuaid revealed he was still waiting for an apology.

"I would like to see him jump on his private plane and come to [the UCI headquarters in] Switzerland and say 'what can I do?'

"He has not apologised to the sport of cycling. Everyone accepts he has not come clean. If he has information that is valuable to the sport he has to come forward."

"He should sit down and work with us, with USADA and the World Anti-Doping Agency."

Nike announced on Wedensday that they have ended their commercial partnership with the Livestrong Foundation, Armstrong's cancer charity. The American sportswear company will no longer make merchandise for the charity beyond its 2013 line.

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