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2004 winner Pat Jonker gets the adulation of the crowd
Former teammate saw no evidence of doping at US Postal Service
Former US Postal Service rider Patrick Jonker has come out strongly in defence of his former leader Lance Armstrong. Speaking with FoxSports.com.au, the Australian claimed that he had never seen any evidence to suggest that Armstrong had doped.
“I didn’t see anything. If I was subpoenaed to go to court and put my hand on the Bible, I’d go,” Jonker said. “This is not a game, it’s very serious.”
Floyd Landis implicated Armstrong in his allegations of the existence of a systematic doping programme within the US Postal Service team. A federal investigation has since been launched into the matter.
"Maybe it's good they're investigating. These are serious allegations and, once and for all, [Armstrong’s] name will be cleared. But cleared of what? Because he hasn't done anything wrong,” maintained Jonker, who is currently manager of the Australia-based Virgin Blue-RBS Morgans team.
"If they want to ask were there any performance enhancing drugs taken at US Postal, I'd say, 'I wish there was' because I would have liked to improve my performance,” he added jokingly.
Jonker spent the 2000 season with US Postal but missed out on riding the Tour de France due to injury. However, his relationship with Armstrong dates back to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, when the Australian and American teams shared a hotel while training before the event, and they maintained their friendship throughout the 1990s.
“He was a big Texan triathlete who kicked our arse,” Jonker recalled. “Some years he spent more time with me than his wife.”
Jonker joined US Postal Service from Rabobank in 2000 and left for Big Mat-Auber 93 the following season. His best Tour de France performance came in ONCE colours in 1996, when he finished 12th.