Eddy Merckx has expressed his support for Lance Armstrong following the American’s decision not to contest charges of doping and conspiracy by the US Anti-Doping Agency.
Armstrong is set to be stripped of all results earned from August 1998, including his seven Tour de France titles, after USADA uncovered evidence of doping practices from Armstrong's time at US Postal, Discovery Channel and RadioShack, based on rider testimony and on Armstrong's own blood values from 2009 and 2010.
Merckx has been a vocal supporter of Armstrong in spite of the evidence that has mounted against him over the past decade, and he continued in the same vein on Friday.
“Lance has been very correct all through his career,” Merckx told La Dernière Heure. “What more can he do? All of the controls that he has done – over 500 since 2000 – have come back negative. Either the controls don’t serve any purpose or Armstrong was legit. The whole case is based on witnesses, it’s deeply unjust.”
Armstrong’s decision not to contest the USADA charges means that he avoids a public hearing, although USADA CEO Travis Tygart has intimated that the evidence gathered will be made public in due course.
“At a certain point, exasperation sets in. Lance told USADA, ‘Do what you want now, I don’t care,’” said Merckx, whose son Axel is manager of the Bontrager-Livestrong under-23 team.
“I haven’t spoken to Lance recently but I know that he is disillusioned. It’s really a regrettable affair. It’s bad for cycling, and it’s bad for everybody.”