Lance Armstrong has claimed that Brian Cookson has not delivered on his campaign promises since becoming president of the UCI.
During a long interview with the BBC, a few days after the two-year anniversary of his doping confession, Armstrong suggested that Cookson has failed to signal a new direction in the fight against doping because of the way he handled the Astana WorldTour licence decision and the unusual fast-tracking of the decision to give Chris Froome a TUE for the corticosteroid prednisolone during the 2014 Tour de Romandie.
Cookson told Cyclingnews that Astana was 'drinking in the last chance saloon' after a series of doping scandals but said the UCI had to abide by the current procedures that are laid down and so give the Kazakhstani team a place in the WorldTour. However, Armstrong, who often had the support of former UCI president Pat McQuaid during his career, claimed that "If McQuaid had made the same decisions Cookson has made in his first year, he would have been lynched."
"Do we like what we have got so far?" the BBC report Armstrong as saying.
Speaking to the Cycling Independent Reform Commission
Armstrong has spoken to the UCI funded Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) as he tries to secure a reduction in his life ban issued by the Unites States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). However it seems the CIRC can only recommend reductions in the length of bans, with USADA having the final word in Armstrong's case. Italy's Riccardo Ricco has also spoken at length to the CIRC but the Italian Olympic Committee blocked any reduction in his ban.
According to the BBC, Armstrong said "everybody thinks" Astana should have been thrown out, but he accepted that Cookson's hands might have been tied by the UCI's rules.
Armstrong also believes that other former dopers should be obliged to speak to CIRC if they want to remain in the sport. "If I'm Brian Cookson, I would make it a deal point that you have to come in and talk," Armstrong said. "So if Riis doesn't talk to you, or Vinokourov doesn't, there should be consequences. I don't know those to be examples, but I can imagine.”
"If you don't come in to talk, you don't just get passed."
According to the BBC, the Tinkoff-Saxo team said that Riis has never specifically refused to meet CIRC. The UCI said it would wait until CIRC is published before making any comment. CIRC is expected to complete its year-long investigation by the end of next month.
The UCI preferred not to respond to Armstrong's comments, telling Cyclingnews: “The UCI will await the findings and recommendations of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission which is investigating historic doping in cycling before commentating on any individual. The CIRC is due to report its findings at the end of February.”
Feeling sorry for Froome and Wiggins
During the BBC interview Armstrong said he felt sorry for the consequences his doping had caused to the sport and particularly the legacy of questions every Tour de France winner now faces.
"I'm sorry, and I completely agree that because of the timing of things, it is down to me," Armstrong said. "[USADA's reasoned decision] comes out after the Tour in 2012, so it's logical that in 2013 there's going to be a lot of questions. Especially in a year when Chris Froome performs exceptionally.”
"Look, Froome won the Tour in 2013, that's 14 years after 1999. If in 1999 I was asked questions about the 1985 winner of the Tour de France, I'd be like 'What are you talking about? Why are you asking me about the mid-80s? But the story was so relevant to people. When this went down, people were left with the impression, in 2012, that I was hanging blood bags six months earlier. That's not the case.
"So I feel bad for those guys, they shouldn't have been put in that position. I'm not sure why they were put in a position to answer 15-year-old questions, but it's unfortunate for all of us, especially for them."