Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) has expressed his sympathy for Lance Armstrong, who has been banned for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for systematic doping offences.
Speaking at the presentation of the 2013 Tour de France route in Paris on Wednesday, Contador decried Armstrong’s treatment, claiming that there was “no new proof” against the American.
“In my opinion, at certain times, there has been a total lack of respect for Lance,” Contador said, according to the EFE news agency. “From my point of view, he was been humiliated and lynched. He has been destroyed. If cycling is popular in the United States, it’s thanks to him. If they know the Tour, it’s thanks to him.”
Armstrong’s life ban came about thanks to the work of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, who complied a 1,000-page dossier complete with witness testimony and documentary evidence that provided a damning account of the systematic doping system in place at the US Postal team (later Discovery Channel) managed by Johan Bruyneel.
Contador won his first Tour de France as a Discovery Channel rider in 2007 and repeated the feat two years later as a teammate of Armstrong at Astana. On each occasion, he was managed by Johan Bruyneel.
A number of former US Postal/Discovery Channel riders, including David Zabriskie, Christian Vande Velde, Tom Danielson, George Hincapie and Michael Barry, were among the individuals to testify about the doping culture in place at the team.
“People talk about Lance but there is no new proof against him, nothing,” Contador said. “They’ve relied on testimony that dates from 2005. I respect the choice of every rider, but I would have preferred if they been a bit earlier.”
Contador took yellow to Paris for a third time in 2010 but was later stripped of his title after he returned a positive test for clenbuterol. On Wednesday, the Spaniard claimed that cycling cannot do much more to combat doping than it has done in recent years.
“There isn’t a lot to change today,” he said. “We have the maximum of controls and we have to give our whereabouts at all times. The measures in place now are the maximum that you can have.”
Asked for a message for the fans of the sport, Contador said: “I tell them to believe fully that you can win races and even the Tour without help.”