Cycling chiefs criticised over Armstrong donation in 2002
Former UCI doping expert says governing body accepted funds after rumours of failed test
THE LANCE ARMSTRONG controversy rumbles on after cycling's governing body came under fire from a former employee over its decision to accept a large financial donation from the rider in 2002, at the same time as rumours began to circulate that he may have covered up a failed drug test.
The latest twist comes days after the US Anti-Doping Agency published its dossier of damning evidence against the seven-times Tour de France winner.
In a BBC radio documentary broadcast yesterday, Dr Michael Ashenden, a doping expert and former employee of the International Cycling Union (UCI), criticised the organisation for accepting the donation of more than $100,000 from Armstrong. He also spoke about a "triangle", involving Armstrong, the UCI and a drug-testing lab in Lausanne, Switzerland.
"The UCI should never have accepted money from Armstrong under any circumstances," Ashenden told Radio 5 Live. "But if they took money after they were aware there were grounds to suspect Armstrong had used EPO, it takes on a really sinister complexion."
He said Armstrong made the donation at the same time as the UCI gave the lab the free use of a blood analyser, and as rumours circulated that Armstrong had failed a test during the Tour of Switzerland in 2001 but had prevented the result coming out.
"That's what I mean by a triangle," Ashenden explained. "The laboratory meets with Armstrong. All of this takes place at about the time that Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton said under oath that Armstrong bragged he had managed to have a [positive] result covered up."
Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph reports that Armstrong's sponsors, including Nike, are still standing by him and the cancer charity he runs. However, the paper notes that two of his backers, Oakley and RadioShack, "have become the first... to publicly admit that they could reconsider their partnerships with the Texan".
The paper adds: "There is also no hint that a fund-raising gala dinner being held in Armstrong's honour this Friday, and due to be attended by celebrities such as Ben Stiller, Robin Williams and Sean Penn, will be cancelled." ·