In an interview with French news paper Le Parisien the five-times Tour de France winner Eddy Merckx says it is possible to win the Tour de France without doping.
Merckx, who tested positive three times during his career, thinks winning the Tour is still very difficult, just like it always was. For the former rider there are only a few candidates for the overall victory this year. “Froome, Contador, Evans, van Garderen and Rodríguez. Maybe Schleck in the end. In any case it’s less crowded at the top,” he said.
After several doping-related stories came out in the media, Merckx said that he "hopes that the doping stories will quickly disappear,” he continued. “The Tour doesn’t deserve that. Some statements were unlucky. You can’t generalize everyone. It is possible to win the Tour de France without doping. Cheaters will not get away with it now we have the biological passport.”
The record-holder for Tour de France stage victories (34) also reflected on former seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. “He had the misfortune to be riding in an era where medicine took over. I met Armstrong after he survived cancer, afer he looked death in the eye. Armstrong had a lot of merit."
The Belgian rider was interviewed by the French paper in relation to a vote among its readers as to who was the ‘champion of champions’ of all the Tours. Merckx won the vote by 34%. Bernard Hinault had 28% and Jacques Anquetil 12%. “The Tour de France was the biggest victory of my life. It had been 30 years since a Belgian rider won when I did in 1969. It was a childhood dream,” Merckx proclaimed.