Lance Armstrong has weighed in on the recent scandal surrounding Chris Froome, saying that, no matter the result of the case, Froome's reputation has been tarnished forever by the intense media reaction.
Armstrong, who had all seven of his Tour de France titles scratched from his palmarès after he was handed a backdated ban for doping, also said that next year's Tour will be 'complete mayhem' for the Team Sky rider.
Froome is currently under investigation from the UCI after an adverse analytical finding for the asthma medication salbutamol. The test, which was taken during the final week of the 2017 Vuelta a España, recorded twice the permitted levels of the substance, which is not banned outright. Froome has not been suspended during the investigation, is cooperating with the UCI, and has said that he did not exceed the dosage allowed for his asthma medication.
"He could be completely exonerated and he is tarnished forever. Damage is done," Armstrong said in his Stages podcast. "You might think I am talking about him caring about whether they write negative articles about him - he may or may not. I don't know and it doesn't really matter. But, come next July, when this all gets cleaned up, it is already unpleasant for him, this is going to be complete mayhem and I know exactly what that fucking feels like. And it ain't any fun."
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Armstrong also criticised the response by some media outlets to the controversy, saying that cycling was given a raw deal when it came to the reporting of these issues. However, he admitted that he had to shoulder much of the responsibility for that.
"It just hangs over and the structure of the sport is so fundamentally weak because you have this structure which was built one hundred years ago and really not much has changed since, if anything, you might even argue it has gotten worse. All the while you see the global impressions, you see the impact the sport has in the world psyche and it doesn't match up."