Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) has claimed that cycling is doing more to combat doping than any other sport. The American was speaking at a press conference on Thursday ahead of his participation in the Santos Tour Down Under.
Armstrong admitted that the steady trickle of positive tests in cycling was a concern but he was insistent that they were a sign that the sport was tackling its problems.
“I can’t say no, you would have to say yes [that positive tests are a concern],” Armstrong said, according to AAP. “But to me that is really a by-product of the sport trying harder than any other sport.
"I know if you laid those controls over any other world sport, especially one as demanding as cycling, you would have as many, if not more, positives."
The comments come days after former professional and respected journalist Paul Kimmage queried the UCI’s role in covering up an alleged positive test by Armstrong. The allegation first came to light in May when Floyd Landis detailed his accusations of systematic doping at the US Postal Service team.
“We need to know about the UCI’s role in this and unless that happens the sport cannot move forward, it’s going to happen again, it’ll just be somebody else next time,” Kimmage told Dutch television station NOS on Monday.
With the Tour Down Under set to be his last professional race outside of the United States, Armstrong also took time to reflect on his career. He was adamant that his legacy to the sport will be a positive one, in spite of the Landis allegations.
“I won the Tour de France seven times and I think I won it because we changed the way people in cycling do business," he claimed. "And I'm not going to dance around the fact there has been plenty of questions about that but the reality is we came with a whole new approach to the sport.
"We revolutionised the way people train, the way they build morale in the team, the way they preview the courses, the way they race, the way they sell the sport, the way they tell that story around the world.”
Armstrong also said that he is set to leave cycling without rancour or fanfare. He first retired from the sport in 2005 before returning to the peloton in time for the 2009 season.
"I leave knowing that I did my best and I don't need somebody to give me a plaque or give me a statue, it has been very good to me on a lot of levels, it has been a good ride."
Armstrong camp not concerned by plasticizer test
While Armstrong prepares for his final international race as a professional rider, his spokesman Mark Fabiani has responded to speculation that a new test for the plasticizer DEHP could be used to retrospectively analyse Armstrong’s anti-doping samples.
“We have no concerns whatsoever about the new plasticizer tests being applied to Lance’s samples,” Fabiani told Bloomberg.
Research to develop the DEHP test is being carried out by a team led by Jordi Segura, head of the WADA-accredited laboratory in Barcelona. Segura’s team maintain that high concentrations of the plasticizer DEHP in urine samples are evidence of blood transfusions, although he warned that work is still ongoing to develop a fully reliable test.
“There are studies ongoing to find out if this can be a stand-alone test,” Segura said.
The use of any form of intravenous infusion has been banned by WADA since 2005, but applying the test to samples prior to that date could be muddled by plasticizers originating from intravenous saline drips used for rehydration.