UCI president David Lappartient has hit back at Bradley Wiggins after the 2012 Tour de France winner described Lance Armstrong as an inspirational figure and called him a ‘perfect’ Tour winner.
Wiggins made the comments in his new book Icons and in an interview with British radio station TalkSport earlier this week. Speaking in London after appearing at the Rouleur Classic, Lappartient said that the comments were not befitting of a Tour de France champion.
“Bradley Wiggins is Bradley Wiggins. He always says some strange things,” Lappartient said, according to the Telegraph. “When I saw [his comments] I thought ‘unbelievable’. The guy who won the Tour de France, he has been Olympic champion, he has been world champion, and he’s supporting Lance Armstrong, who has been banned for life for cheating.
“So, for me, this isn’t acceptable to have some statement like this, specifically from a former winner of the Tour de France. I fully disagree with what he said, of course, because we know now that this [career] has been based on cheating. But Wiggins is Wiggins.”
Wiggins has been promoting his new book Icons, which features an entire chapter on Armstrong, in recent weeks. On Thursday, he added to those comments saying, "This isn't to condone anything he did. He knows he did wrong. But at some point, you've got to get on with your life," he said.
"I'm sick of being told how to feel about the sport by people who have never ridden a bike. I'll decide what I want to feel about the sport.”
As well as Wiggins’ comments, Lappartient was asked about the recent furore surrounding World Anti-Doping (WADA) president Craig Reedie. There has been pressure for Reedie to step down from his position after the recent decision to lift a ban on the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. The MPCC (Movement for Credible Cycling) sent an open letter asking him to resign due to his handling of the Chris Froome case, Operacion Puerto and the refusal to ban Tramadol. There have also been calls for an independent investigation into allegations of bullying by former Athlete Committee chair Beckie Scott. However, Lappartient says he will not join those asking for the Brit to move aside, but said that he wants a stronger WADA.
“I will not join the statements calling for Craig Reedie to resign,” said Lappartient. “From the discussions I had with him, I know he’s trying to do his best to lead the organisation but it’s not always easy. I don’t think asking him to step down is a solution. For me, I would like to give more power to the governing body, and the president. I’m calling for a stronger WADA.”
The UCI announced earlier this year that they plan to ban tramadol from the start of 2019, citing health reasons. However, the painkiller will not be on the WADA’s list of banned substances, despite being on the monitored list for several years. In a response to the MPCC’s letter, Reedie said that there was not a consensus among experts to put tramadol on the list but said that he supported the UCI’s decision. Lappartient said the UCI will continue with their plans, and that he still hopes that WADA will eventually add tramadol to their banned substances list.
“We promise that we will ban tramadol for health reasons,” said Lappartient. “We hope that after this WADA will be able to put this on the list.”