Hein Verbruggen angrily denies saying there is no evidence against Lance Armstrong

But former UCI president stops short of acknowledging that disgraced rider did dope

by Simon_MacMichael   October 18, 2012  

UCI logo on white

Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen has issued a statement in which he angrily refutes claims that he believes there is no evidence against Lance Armstrong. However, the Dutchman stops well short of saying that he believes that the United States Anti Doping Agency has established that the disgraced cyclist is guilty of the charges made against him.

An article published in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf this morning stated that the 71-year-old had said that Armstrong had never tested positive, “not even by USADA,” and that “there is therefore no trace of evidence.”

In a statement issued this morning through the UCI, Verbruggen said: “I vehemently protest against the article in De Telegraaf of Thursday morning by Raymond Kerckhoffs and Hans Ruggenberg. That article wrongly suggests that I would have stated that notwithstanding the USADA file there is no evidence against Lance Armstrong. I made no statement at all on this subject. The heading above the article [‘Geen bewijs tegen Armstrong’ – ‘No evidence against Armstrong’] is absolutely wrong and misleading.

“While giving the impression that it is about a complete interview I simply sent some sms [text messages] to these two gentlemen giving a reaction on Ms Lemond’s statement that a sum of money had been paid in order to cover up a positive test of Lance Armstrong.”

It was reported earlier this week that Greg LeMond’s wife Kathy had claimed in a 2006 deposition in the SCA Promotions case that Armstrong’s then sponsor Nike had paid Verbruggen $500,000 relating to the cover-up of a doping control that Armstrong had failed in 1999. Nike, which terminated its sponsorship of Armstrong yesterday, denies the allegation.

“My reaction was strictly limited to the fact that Lance Armstrong was never found positive by the anti-doping laboratories, that there was no positive test and that there was nothing to be covered up," continued Verbruggen.

“I completely distance myself from the article in De Telegraaf and in any other medium that would use it.”

USADA’s Reasoned Decision in the Armstrong case does however outline a positive test for a banned corticosteroid during the 1999 Tour de France that the agency says he was able to head off by producing a backdated and wholly bogus prescription for a saddle sore cream said to contain the substance.

That prescription was signed by US Postal Service team doctor Luis Garcia Del Moral, banned for life earlier this year by USADA after he chose not to contest its charges.

USADA's dossier also includes testimony from Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis, as well as from a doctor working at a drug-testing laboratory in Lausanne, regarding a “suspect” test by Armstrong for EPO during the 2001 Tour de Suisse, one that would be considered a positive test under current rules.

It is claimed that Bruyneel and Armstrong visited the UCI to persuade it to take the investigation of the sample no further, coinciding with the cyclist promising to make a $100,000 donation to the UCI, which he eventually paid in 2005.

Earlier this week, blood doping expert Dr Michael Ashenden, who helped devise and run the UCI’s biological passport until April this year, said that it would be “sinister” if the governing body had accepted Armstrong’s payment while suspecting him of having doped.

"For the honorary president of the UCI to say he [Armstrong] hadn't doped, in the face of everything, I really have to question what his motives were to say that. I find that absolutely flabbergasting," Dr Ashenden told BBC Radio 5 Live on Monday.

Even if the UCI were to be given the benefit of the doubt that they had no such suspicions in 2002 when the offer of that donation were made, in 2005 when they reminded him that he hadn’t paid there were enough widespread and detailed allegations in circulation to suggest that taking his money might not be the wisest option.

Current UCI president Pat McQuaid has since said that it would think carefully about ever accepting another donation from a rider.

Today’s statement stops well short of Verbruggen, who remains honorary life president of the UCI, saying he accepts that Armstrong is guilty of the charges that have led to USADA imposing a life ban on him and stripping the Texan of results including his seven Tour de France victories. 

Last year, reacting to Tyler Hamilton’s claim that the UCI had conspired with Armstrong to cover up that 2001 test in the Tour de Suisse, Verbruggen said: "There is nothing. Lance Armstrong has never used doping. Never, never, never. I say this not because I am a friend of his, because that is not true. I say it because I'm sure."

However, in a book presented to Verbruggen when his tenure as president of the UCI ended in 2005, the cyclist described him as “a great friend,” signing off by saying, “thanks for everything."

9 user comments

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De Telegraaf published Hein's SMS to their reporter:

"Enige wat ik kan zeggen is dat er heel, heel veel verhalen en verdachtmakingen zijn, maar geen spoor van BEWIJS. Is er ook niet. LA werd nooit positief bevonden; ook niet door USADA. En wie de kontroleprocedures kent weet ook dat er niks te regelen valt, enz enz. Maar ik ben het "moe"stadium al beetje voorbij. Mooie nacht! Hein"

Which translates to:

All I can say is that there are lots of stories and accusations, but not a trace of PROOF. And it doesn't exist. LA was never found positive; not by USADA either. And if you know the control-procedures you know there's nothing that can be fixed, etc etc. But this is already beyond the "tired" stage for me. Good night! Hein

(BEWIJS can translate as proof or evidence. He means there's no evidence at all in the first sentence, and with the 2nd, means that there will never be proof - seemingly because he thinks only doping control tests can constitute proof).

posted by Paul J [764 posts]
18th October 2012 - 12:28


I've lost all faith in the UCI.

posted by Clenbutador [15 posts]
18th October 2012 - 13:19


Can't wait for the day, or night, Hein and Pat say, 'It's goodnight from him, and goodnight from me'.


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1093 posts]
18th October 2012 - 17:47


So Hein has clarified his SMS:

"A clarification is required to the story published in De Telegraaf on the 18th of October. I texted Hans Ruggenberg. The texts I sent concerned only the alleged corruption that Nike now also formally denied. My position is that there has never been evidence of a positive laboratory test of LA and so there could have been nothing to pay off. The lesson for me in this is that short texts are not an ideal way to clearly make a point, the text was interpreted differently than I had intended."

So he says he was responding to the allegations that Nike paid $500,000 to shut down the '01 EPO positive in Tour de Suisse. Of course, if the allegations are true then there was no positive *because* of the money. However, we do know the head of the lab has described the result as "suspicious" - not a definitive positive.

Further, Hein is wrong generally that LA never tested positive. Lance has done so on at least 7 occasions. He tested positive for corticosteroids in 1 sample, and positive for EPO in 6 samples, from the '99 Tour de France. The UCI just never sanctioned Lance for it.

posted by Paul J [764 posts]
18th October 2012 - 21:37


As previously stated ... UCI == CrockOfShite ... a dangerous, deluded and incompetent CrockOfShite

To slo to live, to slo to die! ::-}

posted by OldnSlo [130 posts]
18th October 2012 - 22:50


Ditto Antonio's comment. It's high time Pat stepped down and a new era of cycling authority emerged from these pitiful ashes. Absolutely, 100% not interested in any statement the UCI cares to release. Everything they stand for has been undermined via the USADA findings.

posted by Alb [112 posts]
18th October 2012 - 23:06


I think Verbruggen should keep his head in the sand and keel over. The UCI remain unforthcoming with the truth. If they were not complicit in the whole affair they were certainly ineffective for over 15 years. Let's get rid of these stawlwarts..Le Mond for president Big Grin They seem to be dragging there asses, as usual, in ratifying the USADA report. Hoping to see if this mess will die down. But there is no sign of this abating with the Italians getting on board over the Ferrari affair.

Brink back Henry the V111 I say.'Off with their heads!' Applause

posted by Seoige [104 posts]
19th October 2012 - 5:15


OldnSlo wrote:
As previously stated ... UCI == CrockOfShite ... a dangerous, deluded and incompetent CrockOfShite

You forgot "Corrupt beyond belief".

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
19th October 2012 - 14:19


The only way to save professional cycling is to completely dismantle the UCI and any other organization associated with the last 15 years of cycling. Their total lack of credibility and honesty does irreparable harm and de-legitimizes the sport.Time to start over.

Michael R. Smith

posted by American tifosi [37 posts]
19th October 2012 - 19:58