Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen has denied stories that he was paid $500,000 to cover up a positive doping test for Lance Armstrong in 1999. “Armstrong has never tested positive,” he said in a text message to De Telegraaf. “There is no trace of evidence.”
“There are many, many stories and insinuations,” according to the 71-year-old. “But anyone who knows the control knows that there is nothing to regulate.”
Verbruggen was president of the UCI from 1991 to 2005, a time period which which includes all of Armstrong's Tour de France wins.
Earlier this week Cyclingnews reported on Kathy LeMond's deposition from the 2006 SCA case. She testified under oath that former US Postal mechanic Devries had told her and others that Nike and a part-owner of the team had transferred the money to a private Swiss account belonging to Verbruggen.
The money was allegedly sent to cover up a 1999 positive drug test for corticosteroids, which Armstrong claimed to have used to treat saddle sores.
“Mrs. LeMond's story is so absurd that it is not worth an official statement,” he said.
Verbruggen subsequently issed a “vehement protest” against De Telegraaf's story. “While giving the impression that it is about a complete interview, I simply sent some sms to these two gentlemen [De Telegraaf's reporters - ed.] giving a reaction on Ms Lemond's statement that a sum of money had been paid in order to cover up a positive test of Lance Armstrong,” he said in a statement issued by the UCI on Thursday morning.
“My reaction was strictly limited to the fact that Lance Armstrong was never found positive by the anti-doping laboratories, that there was no positive test and that there was nothing to be covered up.
"That article wrongly suggests that I would have stated that notwithstanding the USADA file there is no evidence against Lance Armstrong. I made no statement at all on this subject."
De Telegraaf has since published the full sms exchange between its reporter Hans Ruggenberg and Verbruggen, which contradicts Verbruggen's assertion.
Hein Verbruggen: Who is this? Hein
Hans Ruggenberg [De Telegraaf]: Hi Hein. Hans Ruggenberg of De Telegraaf. Called you for an opinion on the latest developments.
Hein Verbruggen: Hello Hans, given the madness and nonsense, I decided not to give interviews or statements until it’s quieter. But if you want off the record information then please call. I’m in China. H.
Hans Ruggenberg: Ok Hein. Understandable. I would like a reaction for the newspaper. Off the record information is difficult in this case, as you can imagine. Let me know if you want to give a statement. Hans.
Hein Verbruggen: All I can say is that there are many, many stories and suspicions, but no trace of PROOF. There is none. LA never tested positive, not even by USADA. And those who know control procedures know that there is nothing to arrange etc etc.
Hans Ruggenberg: Pity that tomorrow’s newspaper is already gone. It will be in the next day. Best of luck with everything and thanks for your comment. Greetings, Hans.