FIVE-TIME Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain insists he still believes Lance Armstrong is innocent and expects him to prove it by appealing against the most serious doping allegations in cycling history.
Indurain also questioned how Armstrong, who was on Monday stripped of his record seven Tour titles following the charges from the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), could be convicted without laboratory evidence.
Armstrong, who has also been dropped by all of his sponsors and stepped down as chairman of his Livestrong charity, has repeatedly denied doping but declined to challenge the USADA dossier.
“Even now I believe in his innocence,” said Indurain, who ruled the Tour from 1991 to 1995. “He has always respected all the regulations. He has won all the cases he’s had. What surprises me is that he doesn’t keep fighting. I think he will come back and appeal and try to show that he played fair for all those years. It is strange that this is done only from testimonies. Rules were in place and now it seems they have changed.”
Pat McQuaid, president of cycling’s world governing body the UCI, which ratified the USADA charges, yesterday faced further calls to quit from former rider Tyler Hamilton, who testified against Armstrong. “Instead of seizing an opportunity to instil hope for the next generation, he continues to point fingers, shift blame and attack those who speak out – tactics that are no longer effective,” he said.
World Anti-Doping Agency chief John Fahey urged the UCI to “take the blinkers off” and root out anyone tainted by doping still in the sport: “I don’t think there’s any credibility if they don’t do that.”