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David Millar (Garmin - Cervelo)
Scot criticises Armstrong for not doing enough against doping
Millar was speaking at the presentation of his autobiography in London. Called ‘Racing through the darkness: the fall and rise of David Millar’, the book details Millar’s account of his own doping, his personal problems when he was caught and his eventual return to the sport as a staunch advocate against doping.
He criticised Armstrong for failing to take a similar strong stance during his career.
“I can’t say definitively if Lance doped or not. Yes, there are all the stories and rumours but I certainly never saw him dope with my own eyes. If he did dope, after all he has said and done, it would be unforgivable,” Millar told the Telegraph newspaper.
Armstrong is under investigation by the Federal Drug Administration as part of a wider investigation into possible financial fraud at the US Postal Service team. Armstrong has always denied doping but has been accused by former teammates Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton.
“His performances on the Tour were extraordinary but he is unlike anybody you will ever meet. He is a force of nature. But I have always thought that he could have done more against doping. He was in a position to make a difference and to help his sport but I never saw any evidence of that.”
“The entire Lance thing – did he dope or didn’t he dope – is suffocating the sport and obscuring a lot of good developments,” Millar said. “The only resolution is to let the FDA investigation take its full course and for that to be the final word on the matter.”
“Whatever the eventual outcome – and I’m struggling to see a happy ending – we have to accept the verdict collectively and move on. That would offer some sort of closure and we can call a halt to the endless process and draining debate.”
In defence of Contador
In contrast to his comments on Armstrong, Millar defends Alberto Contador after the way he has been treated since his positive test. He goes as far as suggesting that the Spaniard could go on to be the greatest grand tour rider in the history of the sport.
Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour de France but the legal process has been slow and complicated.
Contador has always insisted his positive test was caused by contaminated meat he ate on the second rest day of the Tour de France. He was cleared of doping by the Spanish Cycling Federation but that sentence was appealed by both the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Cycling Union (UCI). A final verdict was expected before this year’s Tour de France but has now been delayed until at least August, meaning Contador will ride this year’s Tour de France.
"It's farcical. He (Contador) should have either been vindicated or sanctioned a long time ago," Millar told the BBC.
"I think it's bad for Alberto and it's bad for the sport that it hasn't been sorted out yet. Whether he's positive or negative, it's the system's fault for not dealing with it. There should be a two-week timeframe for when it is actually resolved.”
"This case is opening everyone's eyes to the discrepancies we have regards the sanctioning and disciplinary process in the anti-doping world. The science is now so advanced, and yet the judicial side of it is medieval and makes no sense. Alberto deserves a presumption of innocence, but unfortunately he has now been tarnished with that brush. People will never believe him, whichever way it goes, which is really sad. It's not healthy for cycling and not healthy for professional sport. It makes it all look pretty stupid."
Millar saw from close up how Contador dominated the recent Giro d’Italia. For Millar, Contador’s consistency is a sign of his unique talent.
"Alberto Contador is untouchable as rider, he is a physical freak and we in the peloton have known that for a long time and respect his supreme talent. I would be very surprised if he didn't end up as the greatest Grand Tour rider in the history of the sport. It’s a tragedy that he has got mixed up in this Clenbuterol thing but I am keeping an open mind on his case,” Millar told the Telegraph.
"Does anybody out there seriously doubt that Contador was riding clean in the Giro d'Italia that has just finished? You don't win the biggest races in the world with such clockwork regularity and comparative ease, and in such style, by not being the supreme talent and clean. In my experience the profile of a doper is always much more erratic and unpredictable.”
"The rest of us mere mortals have "magic days" when every so often when we can take on the world. Contador's default setting is a "Magic day". His only departure from the norm is when he experiences merely an average day. They are the only two levels he rides at. My strong instinct is to trust that."