Travis Tygart, the man whose pursuit of Lance Armstrong led to the former US Postal rider being banned from sport for life, says he is hopeful the Texan will co-operate with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) at some point.
USADA CEO Tygart led the investigation into doping at US Postal that in October 2012 led to Armstrong being banned from sport for life and stripped of results including the seven Tour de France titles he won from 1999 to 2005.
He told the German newspaper Die Welt that he remains in contact with Armstrong, and that USADA was “hopeful that he comes in to see us and does the right thing
“I think there is a lot of good that Lance Armstrong can still do for sport but also, obviously, the cancer community around the world.
“We hope it will happen, but we know it's a process. We know that the first step is usually the hardest.
“But, just like Tyler [Hamilton], just like Floyd [Landis],” – the two former team mates whose allegations against Armstrong proved to be the catalyst for his downfall” – we hope that he will get through the process and come in.
“We're not waiting on the moment, but we will certainly embrace it if he decides to finally do it,” he added.
Tygart said that the Armstrong case and others had sent out a clear signal to other drug cheats that they would not be allowed to benefit from the advantage doping gave them over athletes who compete clean.
He also said that Brian Cookson’s election as UCI president marked a turning point in cycling addressing the problem of doping, and was an example other sports could follow.
“I think exposing the fraud and the drug-infested culture back then, which involved a lot of athletes – including Lance Armstrong – sent a loud and powerful message that clean athlete's rights are important.
“The change at the top [of the UCI], with the president, the general counsel and the secretary general all being removed, because of their failure to oversee a clean culture and then respond after the dirty culture was presented to them, sends a warning to other sport leaders.
“But it also sends a powerful message to clean athletes that we – anti-doping organizations like USADA, [Germany’s] NADA and WADA – are here for them and we are going to fight the battles with them.
“Hopefully that convinces and persuades them to do things the right way,” he went on. “But it also tells them that, if they don't, they are going to be caught and exposed.”
Tygart rejected the accusation, widely repeated by Armstrong’s defence team as the case wore on during 2012, that he had been the victim of a ‘witch hunt,’ saying he had been given the opportunity to come clean when charges were first brought in June 2012.
“Let's not forget, he had the opportunity to contest all the evidence in front of judges, not USADA. Those judges would have levied whatever sanction then went into place,” he said.
“Armstrong, on the advice of his counsel, voluntarily withdrew a challenge to that evidence and accepted a lifetime ban.
“He could have gone and not even testified. He could have just challenged the sanction that went into place.
“So, if there was ever any belief that it was unfair or was not consistent with the other cases, there was a legal opportunity for that to be challenged, and that was not chosen.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.