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Former cycling chief denies Lance Armstrong doping cover-up

May 23, 2011 |  9:19 am

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Former International Cycling Union President Hein Verbruggen said Monday he knew nothing about suspicious drug test results by Lance Armstrong, denying nationally televised allegations by Tyler Hamilton of a cover-up by the UCI.

Hamilton, an Olympic gold medalist and former teammate of Armstrong, said in a "60 Minutes" interview that aired Sunday night that Armstrong used the blood-boosting hormone EPO to prepare for the 2001 Tour de France, and that Armstrong said the UCI helped him cover up a positive test at the Tour de Suisse, a warm-up event, that year.

"There has never, ever been a cover-up. Not in the Tour de Suisse, not in the Tour de France," Verbruggen said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. "I don't know anything about suspicious tests. I was not aware of that."

In the interview, Hamilton admitted for the first time publicly that he doped throughout his career. He also had plenty to say about Armstrong, including that he saw the seven-time Tour de France champion take performance-enhancing drugs and that Armstrong encouraged other members of the U.S. Postal Service team to take them.

Armstrong has denied all accusations of doping and has never failed a test for banned drugs.

"Throughout this entire process, CBS has demonstrated a serious lack of journalistic fairness and has elevated sensationalism over responsibility," Armstrong's attorney, Mark Fabiani, said in a statement. "CBS chose to rely on dubious sources while completely ignoring Lance's nearly 500 clean tests and the hundreds of former teammates and competitors who would have spoken about his work ethic and talent."

On Monday, Verbruggen also denied an allegation on "60 Minutes" that the UCI helped arrange a meeting that involved Armstrong and the laboratory that tested the Swiss race samples, saying he had no knowledge of such a meeting.

Tour de Suisse spokesman Rolf Huser told the Associated Press that race organizers knew nothing about the race test results. "We are never in the loop about doping controls. We have to be neutral," he said. "We can't say anything about these rumors from 2001. We had the [race] results and everything was OK."

Hamilton's claims involving the Tour de Suisse are similar to those made by Floyd Landis, who, like Hamilton, denied doping while racing but later came clean. Verbruggen and his successor as UCI president, Pat McQuaid, are suing Landis in Switzerland for saying that the organization protected star riders from doping allegations.

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-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Tyler Hamilton, left, and Lance Armstrong in 2004. Credit: Thierry Roge / Reuters

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