Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen ended his silence and shot back at claims leveled by banned cyclist Lance Armstrong that Verbruggen was part of a coverup.
Speaking to London daily The Telegraph, Verbruggen denied he helped cover up a positive test for cortisone by Armstrong during the 1999 Tour de France.
“I see it as if I’m part of a kind of industry now. It’s called the Lance Armstrong industry. People are making films now. It’s all part of the industry," Verbruggen said. "You have a lot of people in it with a vested interest, and this interest is clearly not to know the truth."
“Lance Armstrong has his own agenda and that is certainly his own personal interest, whether it is that he wants his sanctions to be reduced or whether he wants money. Usually, with Lance, there is always an interest also in money. My interest is the truth.”
Verbruggen, who left his position as UCI president in 2005, defended his record at the helm of the cycling federation. He denied corruption charges, but admitted his reputation is tainted.
“And the people in sport who know me really well tell me, ‘Hein, we don’t believe this crap’. It’s embarrassing, it’s changed my life in a certain way. But I know what I’ve done for sport and these are facts," he said.
"I took a federation from virtually bankruptcy, with four people working in three offices in three countries, hopelessly divided, to a flourishing federation with an excellent reputation as a structure,” he said. “So, I haven’t lost one friend, nobody who is important in my life. I’ve lost nothing.”
Armstrong won the first of his seven Tour de France titles (all of which have since been expunged) in 1999l, and the Texan claimed that Verbruggen was eager at the time to avoid another doping scandal in the wake of the scandal surrounding the Festina team in 1998.
Armstrong told British newspaper the Daily Mail: “Hein just said, ‘This is a real problem for me. This is the knockout punch for our sport, the year after Festina, so we’ve got to come up with something.’ So we backdated the prescription.”
Verbruggen said the claim is not true.
“How can I take care of something that is known already by the laboratory, that is known already by the French Ministry (which conducted the test), that is known by the UCI, the anti-doping people at the UCI? It’s ridiculous.”