The UCI should not have accepted the cash donation from Lance Armstrong, former UCI president Hein Verbruggen said on Dutch television. “In retrospect, this was an unfortunate decision.”
He also said that he always had his doubts about Armstrong's performances.
Current UCI president Pat McQuaid has said that Armstrong made two payments to the UCI. He gave them a personal cheque for $25,000 in 2002, and his management company Capital Sports and Entertainment paid $100,000 in 2005.
The first payment was used by the UCI's Anti-Doping Council to conduct anti-doping tests on junior riders, and the second payment went towards a Sysmex blood testing machine.
Verbruggen was president of the UCI when the payments were made, and on Sunday evening told Dutch broadcaster NOS, “If we had known then what we know now, we would have never done that.”
He also denied that the federation helped Armstrong in any way. "It just can not be concluded that we have favoured Armstrong, because we did not. We could do nothing for him.”
Nor did the UCI cover up a positive Armstrong EPO doping control at the 2001 Tour de Suisse, he said, although he seemed to indicate that there was a questionable control. “We warned everyone who was suspicious in the hope that he would stop,” Verbruggen said.
Verbruggen, 71, had long been a public supporter of Armstrong, in 2011 telling sporza.be, “ Lance Armstrong has never used doping. Never, never, never,” although he later denied having said that. Now, he claimed that he had always questioned Armstrong's performance. “You always have doubts, but as the president of the UCI you can't bring it out. He was also tested 220 times and never tested positive.”
The confession of Armstrong's doping use was a disappointment. “I did not feel very good at all. I have so far refrained from contact with him, but in the future I think it will still happen. He gave us a lot of trouble and I am still worried.”