Exclusive: Verbruggen writes to top IOC members to deny involvement in Armstrong cover-up

Wednesday, 13 February 2013
By Duncan Mackay at the Palace Hotel in Lausanne

Hein Verbruggen with Lance Armstrong 2February 13 - Hein Verbruggen, Honorary President of the International Cycling Union (UCI), has written to all 15 members of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) ruling Executive Board to defend himself over accusations that he was central to a cover-up involving Lance Armstrong.

In a letter delivered to the rooms of every member attending the two-day meeting here, including IOC President Jacques Rogge, the Dutchman also fiercely attacked the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and its former President, Dick Pound, a long-time rival of Verbruggen's.

Verbruggen, who stood down as UCI President in 2005 after 14 years in charge to be replaced by Irishman Pat McQuaid, denied that he had anyting to do with Armstrong avoiding detection for so long as he won seven consecutive Tour de France titles between 1999 and 2005.

"I have been frequently accused that during my UCI Presidency, my Federation would not have been too serious in its anti-doping policy and that - in particular the Armstrong case - the UCI and myself would have been involved in covering-up positive tests," he writes in the letter seen by insidethegames.

"Cover-ups never took place.

"Not only this would never have been allowed, but also since the there simply was nothing to cover-up.

"Armstrong, nor his team mates ever tested positive.

"There was a finding for cortisone in 1999 (a time when only the UCI was testing for corticosteroids) that was declared as negative also by the French AD [anti-doping]-authorities that conducted the testd, since it was the result of the use of an (allowed) ointment.

"That case was made public immediately and the UCI issued a press release explaning how the case was resolved.

"There further was a suspicious test for EPO in 2001 but definitely NOT declared positive by the laboratory."

Hein Verbruggen at press conferenceHein Verbruggen has written to senior IOC officials to deny he was involved in any cover-up to protect Lance Armstrong

Verbruggen is angry at what he believes is unfair criticism towards the UCI at the fact Armstrong was allowed to run such a sophisicated systematic doping programme for so long without being caught.

"It is straightforwardly bizarre that as to the negative test results of Armstong c.s (sic), one exclusively seems to have suspicions about the UCI, forgetting that WADA, USADA and the French AD-authorities also tested the US Postal-team exhaustively  (USADA did over 300 tests on the team and ALL turned out to be negative).

"Any suspicion about USADA?

"About WADA?"

Verbruggen saves his harshest criticism for WADA, though.

"Personally, and I am not the only ones, I find that there is a heavy responsibility of WADA since they 'force' the world of sport to spend some US$0.5 billion (some US$600,000 per sanctioned positive test!!) for the fight against doping, while declaring themselves that THEIR (!) whole system is totally flawed.

"Wasn't it WADA's General Manager Mr. David Howman, who declared: 'we only catch the dopey dopers...'.

"I have rarely heard someone declaring so clearly the bankruptcy of his own organization and policy.

"Half a billion in a flawed system......and no criticism at all?"

Verbruggen also uses his letter to reignite his battle with Pound, former President of WADA and vice-president of the IOC.

Dick Pound in front of WADA logoFormer WADA President Dick Pound has had a long running dispute with Hein Verbruggen

Verbruggen had sued Pound  following public criticism of the UCI before a settlement was reached in 2009.

Following Armstrong's admission last month that he had used drugs during all seven of his Tour de France victories, Pound had claimed that the future of cycling as an Olympic sport could be under threat.

When the IOC Executive Board voted here yesterday to decide which sport to drop from the core programme for 2020 cycling did not receive one vote and easily retained its place.

"Mr. Pound has chosen to make the fight against doping subordinate to his own little revenge wars against me and my sport," Verbruggen writes.

"So be it.

"But it won't stop me of telling the truth and defending myself and my sport when injustice is done."

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