David Millar: Armstrong deceit is heavy burden on young riders
Public perception of doping lags behind the cleanup in the sport, he says
A new generation of pro cyclists are being unfairly burdened by the legacy of Lance Armstrong, the reformed doping cyclist David Millar has said.
Speaking after the fifth stage of Paris-Nice, the cyclist, who served a two year ban for doping and now campaigns to clean up the sport, said that the sport was still some way off facing its past and moving on.
He told Eurosport: "He (Armstrong) was on their radar, he was one of the people who inspired them to get into the sport like many when they were younger.
"From the exterior it seems like it's very sudden but it's been a fairly gradual downfall in many ways, especially within the sport," he added, saying cycling lived in the 1990s and the 2000s with that "big elephant" (doping) in the room.
"Now it makes them more angry than anything else to have to deal with the mistakes of another generation, it's something they have to deal with which is not fair."
He said that although the public was only just waking up to the realities of doping during the Armstrong years, the sport was ahead of public perception.
He said: "We are hearing and seeing the truth of what really happened rather than what we thought or believed happened. In a way it's interesting but not very representative of where cycling is at the moment.
"Within Garmin-Sharp we've always had a very proactive anti-doping stance.
"We educate our young riders that they can talk about this, we never gag them."
It's unsurprising that, as poacher turned gamekeeper, Millar believes in second chances, and he doesn't think that all those involved need to face lifetime bans.
He added: "We don't have to remove the people from that era, we proved that with our team. In many ways, having people who want to make a difference like JV (Vaughters) and myself, Christian, David, it helps confront the past and be very pragmatic about it.
"There are also a lot of guys out there in the sport who are blinkered, who are in denial, they're also scared because they don't know what is going to happen to them if they do (talk)."