Tour de France 2015

The Tour de France is an annual bicycle race held in France and nearby countries. First staged in 1903, the race covers more than 3,600 kilometres (2,200 mi) and lasts three weeks. As the best known and most prestigious of cycling's three "Grand Tours", the Tour de France attracts riders and teams from around the world. The defending champion from 2014 is Italian Vincenzo Nibali, with Britain's Chris Froome and Spain's Alberto Contador expected to provide strong challenges in 2015

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CYCLING

Armstrong says it was impossible to win Tour de France without doping

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 4:05am
 

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, who cheated his way to seven Tour de France victories from 1999-2005, claims it would have been impossible to win the world's greatest race without doping.

Asked if riders won races drugs-free in the era when he competed, a bullish Armstrong told French daily Le Monde: "It depends on the races. The Tour de France? No. Impossible to win without doping.

"My name was taken out of the palmares [list of achievements] but the Tour was held between 1999 and 2005 wasn't it? There must be a winner then. Who is he? Nobody came forward to claim my jerseys."

Five-times Tour champion Bernard Hinault was quick to react, the Frenchman telling local TV channel BFM: "He must not know what it was like to ride without doping."

Last year, the US Anti-Doping Agency [Usada] published a report into Armstrong's doping programme, calling it "the most sophisticated in the history of sport", leading to the American being banned for life and losing his Tour titles.

"I did not invent doping. Sorry, Travis," the 41-year-old Texan said, referring to Usada chief executive Travis Tygart. "And it [doping] has not stopped with me. I just took part in the system.

"The Usada 'reasoned decision' perfectly managed to destroy a man's life but it has not benefited cycling at all."

Armstrong also hit out at the International Cycling Union (UCI), which has been heavily criticised for allegedly covering up for the American.

"[UCI president] Pat Mc-Quaid can say and think what he wants. Things just cannot change as long as McQuaid stays in power," he said.

"The UCI refuses to establish a 'truth and reconciliation commission' because the testimony that everyone would want to hear would bring McQuaid, [his predecessor] Hein Verbruggen and the whole institution down," Armstrong said.

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