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The war of words between the UCI and USADA reared its head once again on Thursday when CEO Travis Tygart accused the sport’s governing body of complicity in covering up Lance Armstrong’s doping. It marked the latest scrimmage between the UCI and USADA after escalating tensions in the last few years.
Tygart’s reported claims centre around a meeting that took place between him and Lance Armstrong at the tail end of 2012. The pair met after Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour titles and handed a lifetime ban from competition. During the meeting Tygart claims that Armstrong “led us to believe that he had evidence of their complicity in this situation.”
A source confirmed to Cyclingnews that the meeting took place and said that the USADA chief then failed to pursue the matter even with Armstrong was apparently willing to cooperate.
“Lance told Tygart in December that he’d be happy to help so long as he was treated like Vande Velde, Danielson, Hincapie, Zabriskie, etc. He told Tygart he knew where all the bodies were buried. Tygart never took him up on that offer,” the source told Cyclingnews.
In February Tygart announced that, "We have been in communication with Mr. Armstrong and his representatives and we understand that he does want to be part of the solution and assist in the effort to clean up the sport of cycling. We have agreed to his request for an additional two weeks to work on details to hopefully allow for this to happen."
Tygart disputed the sources claims and told Cyclingnews today that, "We gave him a deadline. He asked for an extension. They backed out. They refused to come in. Around the meeting we were led to believe that he had information about UCI involvement. We want to have that."
The UCI were quick to respond to Tygart's reported comments following a story by the Associated Press. The sport's international govenring body made a direct attack on Tygart and a stern defence of its anti-doping position.
The UCI has always denied covering up doping cases however Armstrong told Cyclingnews in January that the UCI “has no place at the table” when it came to cleaning up the sport and that President Pat McQuaid was “in constant CYA (Cover Your Ass) mode.”
The UCI released a response that lacked clarity and appeared to suggest that they were boasting about the fact they had a bigger testing programme than USADA.
“No attempt by Travis Tygart to rewrite history will change the fact that USADA failed to catch Lance Armstrong having tested him just 49 times during his career. The UCI by comparison tested Armstrong 189 times,” the UCI said in a statement.
The UCI also pointed to the fact that they had helped spark Armstrong's eventually conviction by pursuing anti-doping cases against Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton.
Speaking directly to Cyclingnews, Landis, had this to say about the UCI.
“Getting a false positive every few hundred test and then selectively prosecuting them based on the athletes ability to bribe them away can hardly be called “anti-doping.” The fact that Pat McQuaid was re-nominated gives no hope to the prospect of clean cycling.”