Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen who, it has now become clear from USADA's comprehensive documentation of the Lance Armstrong case, presided over the darkest era of sophisticated doping in the history of sport, has reacted to the file by claiming the UCI "could have done nothing, and did not hide anything" about the systematic, highly orchestrated doping programme taking place in the US Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams.
Speaking to RMC Sport on Thursday, Verbruggen, who was president throughout Armstrong's Tour de France domination, said he is "pleased that USADA's report said that we never put things under the table," Verbruggen said. "This is very important."
He also denies uttering the words reported on Cyclingnews and in the USADA reasoned decision: "I repeat again: Lance Armstrong
has never used doping. Never, never, never."
[The original report came from the Dutch news outlet AD.nl - his exact words were, "Lance Armstrong heeft nooit doping gebruikt. Nooit, nooit, nooit."]
While the USADA report does not accuse the UCI of covering up doping explicitly, it does state [on page 161 of the reasoned decision] that these comments by current UCI president Pat McQuaid and Verbruggen show that they had pre-judged the verdict on Armstrong before ever seeing the USADA dossier of evidence.
Additionally, it says the UCI chose to sue riders such as Floyd Landis, who tried to reveal the doping by Armstrong and US Postal, rather than take any action to investigate the doping claims.
"I never said that Armstrong never doped," Verbruggen stated in today's interview with RMC Sport. "What I said was, when Landis came with his accusations is that we have never had a positive case for Armstrong. And therefore, we do not need to put things under the table.
"There was nothing to settle, because we never had a positive case. We did not hide anything, ever. This is important."
The USADA also accuses the UCI of ignoring riders other than Landis and Tyler Hamilton, who confessed to doping and outed Armstrong's doping activities, such as Jörg Jaksche who exposed doping on Team Telekom, ONCE, CSC and Liberty Seguros, according to the reasoned decision.
Jaksche testified, "the UCI showed zero interest in hearing the full story about doping on these teams and did not seek to follow up with me."