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UCI president Lappartient rebukes Wiggins over Lance Armstrong praise

UCI president Lappartient rebukes Wiggins over Lance Armstrong praise
By PA Sport

02/11/2018 at 16:06Updated 02/11/2018 at 17:13

Wiggins said the disgraced American cyclist was the “perfect” Tour de France rider.

UCI president David Lappartient vehemently disagrees with Sir Bradley Wiggins labelling Lance Armstrong as the “perfect” Tour de France rider.

Wiggins has written and spoken of his admiration for Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour titles and banned for life weeks after Wiggins became the first British winner of the race in 2012.

Lappartient, the head of cycling’s world governing body, said on Friday: “When I saw that I thought it unbelievable. He (Wiggins) won the Tour de France, he has been Olympic champion, he has been world champion and in supporting Lance Armstrong, who has been banned for life for cheating, for me this isn’t acceptable.

“How he can say that the rider is the archetype of a big tour, if the guy won with all what we know about this?

“But, yes, Wiggins is Wiggins. He’s always said some strange things.”

Sir Bradley Wiggins became the first British winner of the Tour de France in 2012

Five-time Olympic champion Wiggins will argue he was speaking from the perspective of a schoolboy who watched Armstrong win the 1993 World Championships road race and later as a teenager, following the American’s cancer treatment, observing the 1999 Tour.

Armstrong won seven successive Tours from 1999 to 2005, but a United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation, with support of federal prosecutors, resulted in his August 2012 ban. Wiggins was promoted to third place at the 2009 Tour as a result of Armstrong’s disqualification.

Five months later, Armstrong confessed to performance-enhancing drug use, namely the blood-boosting agent erythropoietin, in a television interview.

Lappartient says Armstrong’s case is different to those of many other cycling drug cheats, who doped historically or served bans.

The Frenchman added: “Some riders they paid. They were caught, they paid, two years (ban).

“It was not the case of Armstrong. He always denied. When he paid it was just because he had big pressure from American justice.”

Sir Bradley Wiggins defended his use of a powerful steroid for medical reasons

Wiggins was embroiled in a controversy of his own when he sought and was given medical dispensation to use triamcinolone, a powerful corticosteroid, to treat pollen allergies.

Wiggins has always insisted the drug, which has a history of misuse in cycling, was medically necessary.

Corticosteroids are not on the World Anti-Doping Agency banned list – only the monitoring list – but the UCI has commissioned a group of five experts to work towards implementing its own ban of their use on health grounds.

Powerful pain killer Tramadol is also not banned under the WADA Code, but Lappartient says its widespread use in cycling necessitates a ban from the start of the 2019 road racing season on health grounds.

He said: “If you need some Tramadol, no problem, but you will not be able to ride and take part in a race.”

Lappartient said it was time for a review of WADA, but did not join calls for the resignation of its president Sir Craig Reedie, who is under mounting scrutiny as head of the global anti-doping body.

Chris Froome, right, finished third at the Tour de France behind Team Sky colleague Geraint Thomas

Hours after his election as UCI boss in September 2017, Lappartient learned of an investigation into Chris Froome for elevated levels of the asthma drug salbutamol.

Froome’s test came at the 2017 La Vuelta, which he won, and he won May’s Giro d’Italia while under investigation.

After being cleared of wrongdoing, Froome finished third at July’s Tour, behind team-mate Geraint Thomas, as Team Sky’s dominance continued.

Lappartient was asked about budget caps, which have been proposed as a way of halting Team Sky, and a ban on the use of live power meters, which give riders feedback during a race. Both will come under consideration by an ‘attractiveness’ working group, he says.

He added: “Team Sky has a strong budget, so of course they have strong athletes and they ride like this in the Tour de France to win and they won. No problem from me on this. The only problem is the attractiveness of cycling.

“I can’t blame Sky for this, for sure, but this is part of the responsibility for the governing body, also the organisers, to see what could be the best situation.”

Lappartient had a frank exchange with Sir Dave Brailsford through the media in 2018, but has never had a meeting with the Team Sky principal.

Lappartient added: “I will be happy to sit with him.”