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Having long fought Armstrong's corner he is slowly coming round to the allegations...

One of Lance Armstrong's most loyal supporters has said that he is slowly coming to the realisation that his hero was involved in doping.

Phil Liggett, who in August claimed that Lance Armstrong was the victim of a conspiracy after USADA imposed its life ban on him, had hinted that he was yet to be convinced of Lance's guilt.

But in an interview in the Independent this weekend, Liggett, veteran of some 40 editions of the Tour de France first as a journalist and more recently as a commentator, who is for many the ‘voice of cycling.’ appeared to have changed his mind.

"I hate the thought that I built these people into superstars in the minds of the public when they cheated," he said. "But if you look deeper down, they all seemed to have been cheating.

"I'm totally bemused by the whole thing now. I cannot believe it was so endemic – I didn't know it was going on.

"I'm not a friend of Lance's but I have been close to him in that I have worked with him on his cancer gigs. I have seen the other side of him when he has been so deeply embroiled in fighting cancer and helping others fight it. His other side is of course pretty evident too – that the whole team has taken drugs to succeed.

"He told me to my face in 2003 that he didn't do drugs. His words to me were that he'd been on his deathbed and he wasn't going back. I had no reason not to believe him."

Previously, Liggett had said that USADA was a "nefarious local drugs agency," claiming among other things that pressure had been put on potential witnesses and bribes offered to them.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

43 comments

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miffed [162 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm now starting to feel sorry for Phil. Surely though to be that deep in cycling and not notice is careless at best. The writing has been on the wall for years.

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pepita1 [175 posts] 3 years ago
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Well, I think pressure was put on the witnesses to be forthcoming...it was a grand jury subpoena after all!

I, too, believed that Lance was being persecuted by an overzealous US government agency trying to justify spending taxpayer money.on a case the justice dept gave up on. I believe in innocent until proven guilty and not the other way around. But the evidence is out and it is not looking good for Lance even though he remains adament that he didn't dope. I almost feel sorry for Lance and wonder if he might be mentally ill in some way because his continued denial is pathological!

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Paul J [884 posts] 3 years ago
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pepita: Lance has $8m+ reasons to continue denying ($7.5m he got from SCA after they lost their case to not pay his bonus because they believed he'd doped, and reputed $600k odd libel settlement from The Sunday Times for printing excepts from David Walsh & Pierre Ballester's "LA Confidentiel" - the details of which became the backbone of the USADA case). Oh, and there's also possibly a prison cell waiting, because he perjured himself in at least the SCA case.

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 3 years ago
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stupid old c&unt, what an absolute idiot, the things he comes out with, he is a cycling commentator, worse luck, and he really hasn't got a clue ......dear oh dear

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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Phil Liggett said he could PROVE the allegations he made in august. He was not one of the people lied to, just one of the liars. The idea that he never noticed anything over the years as the "Voice of Cycling", not to mention the UCI's youngest ever commissaire, is quite simply beyond belief. If Phil didn't see anything, it's because he made damn sure he was looking the other way!

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monty dog [457 posts] 3 years ago
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He's a UCI Commissaire, fully qualified in willful blindness, it's a prerequisite for the job apparently, just look at Pat and Hein, he fits in perfectly.

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handlebarcam [650 posts] 3 years ago
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OK, who unplugged Phil Liggett from the Matrix? He can't take it, he is too old. Quick, plug him back in, so he can live out his remaining years on a continual loop of 1999 to 2005.

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ch [186 posts] 3 years ago
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Let me emphasize, I DO think they have a solid case that he doped just through the testimony of George Hincapie. USADA has the authority to punish (banning, stripping titles upto some time limit) for doping.

But I think that the charge of forcing others to take to dope should be resolved in a court of law. It is a much more serious crime.
As far as the media goes, these two charges are one and the same.
The media makes a terrible judge.

WADA announced yesterday that they were considering a grand amnesty for past offences (except for Lance). Is that really sensible? It seems to me that they are choosing to magnify a single case so that they can forget about the rest. I can see it is convenient, but it is right? I don't think so.

Compare this to what the Italians have been doing. They have spent a couple of years monitoring the doping trade, following the money, bugging and taping hard evidence. They are about to come out with the charges now. It is real hard boiled police work.

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james-o [235 posts] 3 years ago
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"OK, who unplugged Phil Liggett from the Matrix?"

: ) brilliant

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WolfieSmith [1323 posts] 3 years ago
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What did Armstrong say in 2005? 'I pity those who can't believe..' Time to cut those that did some slack. It's nice to believe. It's positive to believe. I tell my kids It's still right to try to believe. If I knew Armstrong and he told me he didn't dope, would never dope- I, like Phil,would take that on face value.

Phil Liggert is a gentleman. Unlike some in this comment stream. He isn't just a commentator - he kept the Milk Race running in the bad years and has my thanks and respect.

He also asked Armstrong whether he doped - something plenty of others didn't and I imagine many of us wouldn't have either.

Carbon Kev? You're some nobody ( like me ) venting on a website. Phil Liggert is Phil Liggert. And we'd all be the poorer without him.

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antonio [1124 posts] 3 years ago
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Karbon Kev wrote:

stupid old c&unt, what an absolute idiot, the things he comes out with, he is a cycling commentator, worse luck, and he really hasn't got a clue ......dear oh dear

Hey, come on now, less of the 'old'.

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AWPeleton [3319 posts] 3 years ago
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"I hate the thought that I built these people into superstars in the minds of the public when they cheated," he said. "But if you look deeper down, they all seemed to have been cheating"

No shit Sherlock !

40 yrs covering cycling and you just worked that out  41

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Morpheus00 [40 posts] 3 years ago
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@Hicks "Should be resolved in court?" Ya think? What do you think the USADA is, some back street chemist tribunal? It is a legally recognised body that brings cases in the appropriate legal arena. Lance's lawyers knew of all the charges and no doubt advised him the case was indefensible. All this 'hey, let's not jump to conclusions talk' is ridiculously naive. He CHOSE NOT TO DEFEND, at law that is an admission of guilt.

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Morpheus00 [40 posts] 3 years ago
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Oh and p1ss off Phil, after all you've said about the witch hunt and USADA's veracity you should bow out gracefully. If you're commentating on the tour next year I'll stick with Harmon thanks.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 3 years ago
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Breaking News : Phil Liggett Shocked At Revelations That Pope Appears To Be Catholic.

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pj [147 posts] 3 years ago
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and shits in the woods.

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WolfieSmith [1323 posts] 3 years ago
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Harmon? that's like reading The Sun with your lips moving.  4

I bet half the people kicking Liggert now bought a yellow wristband - not for cancer support - but because it was a little link to Lance to show off down the pub. It made you fell a little bit special, a bit different.

There's a lot of hypocrites out there.

Like I said. Liggert's down more for cycling in the UK in the past 40 years than any of us. Especially those that have only known him through the TV in the past 5 years.

Trolls on bikes. Not a pretty sight.

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Max_headset [17 posts] 3 years ago
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Phil it's time you hung up the mike. Your comments this year including those about the merits of BMX in the Olympics on twitter and your defence then neutrality on Lance's woes make the average farmyard sheep dog a more likely cyclists friend than yourself. Your worsening waffle, even be it you did once have a great canal holiday in Norfolk, no longer interests us on the terrestial Tour coverage, I now often have to watch the itv4 show with the sound off to avoid your prattle and possibly have a live internet stream from a french channel to provide audio relief. There has to be a time when you and dear Huw realise its time to take up gardening / fishing/ charity work and remove the risk of the trueman showesque experience of watching the two of you age any further and die on air.

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Max_headset [17 posts] 3 years ago
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dont wear jewellery never had a wrist band something for the ladies I always thought... the ITV4 Vuelta shows we dont need Phil, there is enough talent around I'd give his work to Matt Rendall

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georgee [162 posts] 3 years ago
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You utter chump Phil now get out of doing anything with cycling

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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Sorry MercuryOne, I just don't buy it. Liggett's forty years of constant denial that there was any orchestrated doping is one of the reasons pro cycling finds itself in this current mess.

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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Max_headset wrote:

Phil it's time you hung up the mike. Your comments this year including those about the merits of BMX in the Olympics on twitter and your defence then neutrality on Lance's woes make the average farmyard sheep dog a more likely cyclists friend than yourself. Your worsening waffle, even be it you did once have a great canal holiday in Norfolk, no longer interests us on the terrestial Tour coverage, I now often have to watch the itv4 show with the sound off to avoid your prattle and possibly have a live internet stream from a french channel to provide audio relief. There has to be a time when you and dear Huw realise its time to take up gardening / fishing/ charity work and remove the risk of the trueman showesque experience of watching the two of you age any further and die on air.

I second Mercury all those in favour say Aye.

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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We are not wearing perfuntory jewelery/ Lets all draw our swords and off witht their heads  13

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Morpheus00 [40 posts] 3 years ago
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Merc1: nobody's arguing that Phil isn't a nice chap to know or that he didn't promote cycling in the UK, but his comments re the USADA show that he's an integral part of the omerta culture, which is why it took so long for this to come out and why so many people got damaged along the way. There's no place for him in cycling anymore.

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lesliejames [44 posts] 3 years ago
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Phil saw cycling through rose tinted glasses no doubt.
 39

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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The guy admitted his mistake and maybe we might let him off!! He was naieve though given that he was so close to the sport, inexcusabe some might argue? I simply just do not feel confident in his reporting abilities any more. He justified a position that was untenable in light of the USADA report. We the grass roots cylcists are not bemused. what you see as endemic we see as pandemic. There was nothing nefarious about the Tygart report. The reasoned decision was in fact reasonable. LA was a liar and a cheat and a convincing one. We do not need propaganda Phil, we live in a democracy and expect you to be more thorough in reporting events. Sorry Phil! going to Henry the V111 th your ass.

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Super Domestique [1605 posts] 3 years ago
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Is there not a case that Phil was a cycling fan at heart, who wanted (incorrectly it now seems) to have hero.

Loads of people do that in their team kit, etc every weekend. Phil just had a job that was 'living a dream' for him.

As silly as his blind defence might be (silly is perhaps harsh. Childlike maybe?) the anger of cyclists should be aimed at the cheats not the cheated.

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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Super Domestique wrote:

Is there not a case that Phil was a cycling fan at heart, who wanted (incorrectly it now seems) to have hero.

Loads of people do that in their team kit, etc every weekend. Phil just had a job that was 'living a dream' for him.

As silly as his blind defence might be (silly is perhaps harsh. Childlike maybe?) the anger of cyclists should be aimed at the cheats not the cheated.

I am inclined to agree with you but we are talking 15 years in the abyss. Surely no one can be that dumb  39

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JohnS [198 posts] 3 years ago
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Bring back Duffers!

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James Warrener [1082 posts] 3 years ago
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Max_headset wrote:

the ITV4 Vuelta shows we dont need Phil, there is enough talent around I'd give his work to Matt Rendall

absolutely this. Boulting and Rendell for me.

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