Travis Tygart, CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), says allegations made by former UCI president Pat McQuaid of a “witch hunt” against Lance Armstrong are groundless.
McQuaid, ousted from his position by Brian Cookson in 2013 nearly a year after USADA banned Armstrong from sport for life, had made the claim in an interview with the last month.
The Irishman said he felt a “certain sympathy” with Armstrong. He added: "He was very much made a scapegoat, there was a witch-hunt after Armstrong."
The language used by McQuaid is similar to that used by Armstrong and his defence team right up until the Texan’s admission in a January 2013 television interview with Oprah Winfrey that he had in fact cheated his way to seven successive Tour de France victories from 1999 to 2005.
Tygart, speaking to the press at an anti-doping conference in Singapore, said that USADA’s investigation into Armstrong and the United States Postal Service (USPS) team demonstrated that the former UCI president’s allegations were unfounded.
According to an AFP report, Tygart said: "It is easy for Pat McQuaid or others to say soundbites like he said," adding, “the evidence is telling.
“There have been roughly 26 athletes, coaches, team doctors who have been held accountable. Several of them have gotten lifetime bans as well.”
Dr Michele Ferrari, with whom Armstrong trained, was banned for life while Johan Bruyneel, his former manager at USPS, Astana and RadioShack, was banned from involvement with sport for 10 years.
Several of Armstrong’s former team mates who provided testimony to USADA that helped bring him down were given reduced six-month bans as a result of their co-operation.
They included riders of the stature of George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer, but McQuaid had insisted that "USADA wanted a big name," and was not "really interested in the smaller riders.”
He added: “Also they made deals with the smaller riders in order to get the information they needed on the big guys."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.