Phil Anderson is "disappointed" that former Motorola teammate Lance Armstrong will lose his seven Tour de France titles and wonders what ramifications the case will have for doping allegations in future.
Anderson, speaking to Cyclingnews following Thursday's announcement by Armstrong that he won't fight USADA's charges, admits that he has not "had much to do with Lance post-cancer" but does not believe that the Texan is guilty of the allegations.
"The skeptics will be happy that he's had to walk away from it," said Anderson. "I've always been in support of Lance and believed Lance and his story.
"Call me gullible but I wouldn't have believed Floyd Landis's story - you could see that from his performances. Lance hasn't spiked or fallen off. He's never failed a test."
Anderson rode with Armstrong on the Motorola team between 1992 and 1994 and says he never saw his teammate dope.
"We were pretty close too," Anderson said. "We knocked around together, we were often roommates and I never suspected it nor would I ever believe that this would be an athlete that would. That was prior to cancer. You stare death in the face and you change. He came back and he was a few kilos lighter and he really had fire in his eyes to prove to himself and the world that not only could you beat cancer, but you can come back with vengeance and kick everybody's arse."
The non-European to lead the Tour de France believes that Armstrong's success following cancer made him a target and says that even during his own career, impressive results drew immediate suspicion.
Anderson has previously admitted publicly that he was ashamed of the sport following the Festina affair in 1998 and says now that the real concern is with cycling's governing body. USADA's evidence against Armstrong is said to have included an alleged cover up of a doping control at the 2001 Tour de Suisse, with witnesses reiterating earlier claims made by Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton that a positive test for EPO was covered up. The UCI denies the claim and began proceedings against Landis.
"That sort of smells of corruption at the highest level within the sport and if that is the case, it's hard to make comment," Anderson told Cyclingnews. "It would be very disappointing if that is the case because these are the people that run our sport.
"They're [the UCI is] in dangerous territory I guess and they will want the whole thing to go away. It's not good for the sport to have this sort of publicity. It's like a bad dream for them, I'm sure."
Given the wrangling over jurisdiction on the case and the previous attempts to find a definitive answer as to whether Armstrong doped throughout his career, Anderson said that he will be interested to see how much weight is given to hearsay in future cases.
"That changes the whole story," he said. "You've got to know who your mates are.
"I thought it was a good story when Greg Lemond came back to the Tour de France after a shooting accident with bits of lead in him," Anderson continued. "They needed a better story than that so then Lance comes back after surviving cancer - they're groundbreaking stories and it sells newspapers and magazines.
"The headlines today after going to be about this supreme athlete losing his titles, people like to read about this stuff. People like to hear about celebrities going down for one reason or another."
Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*
Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets
After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59
Join now for unlimited access
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1