12th of October 2012 Author: Glo Wood
Team Sky's Tour De France and Olympic time trial winner Bradley Wiggins has said he is not surprised it has been proved Lance Armstrong is a drugs cheat. A United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) report labelled Armstrong a "serial" cheat who led "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen". Usada had already banned the 41-year-old American for life and stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles.
"I'm certainly not surprised by it," said Wiggins when asked about Usada's findings on Armstrong. "I wasn't really expecting anything. It is what it is. It stacks up pretty highly really, it's pretty damning. There's a lot of it and I think the evidence is now overwhelming. In a way this brings an end to the investigation which has been going on for quite a few years. Maybe now, as a sport, we can to move forward."
When whether he felt some sympathy with Armstrong, Wiggins said: "Not really, no. I don't really think of it in those terms. My main concern is now I'm standing here as the winner of the Tour de France having to now pick to the pieces for other people's misdemeanours. For me it's about looking forward now and not looking back 10, 15 years ago."
But Wiggins does believe people should not judge Armstrong too harshly, saying he too might have been tempted to dope had it not been for British Cycling. With 11 of Armstrong's former team-mates testifying against him, including Wiggins' fellow Team Sky rider Michael Barry, many have been quick to condemn him. But the 2012 Tour de France and Olympic champion believes there are bigger issues on which to focus.
"It's not about Armstrong, it's about the culture of the sport for so many years. People like Michael Barry, I can relate to that, I turned pro 10 years ago, and how it felt going in aged 22, with the peer pressure with the likes of Lance Armstrong in a team like US Postal where it was systematic. You stand by the decisions you make then for the rest of your life, David Millar was the same. But those decisions stay with you for your whole career and I was very fortunate that I was in a system in British Cycling that, regardless of what team I was in, they supported me with the right way to deal with it. They probably saved me otherwise it might have been me, who knows. The peer pressure was huge. But the culture has changed."
Armstrong's lawyers have described the Usada report as a farce, but Wiggins does not agree with Armstrong's defenders. "It is certainly not a one-sided hatchet job, it is pretty damning," Wiggins said. "I am shocked at the scale of the evidence. I have been involved in pro cycling for a long time and now I realise what it takes to train and win the Tour de France. I'm not surprised by it...I had a good idea what is going on."
Wiggins is not the top favourite to win next year's Tour de France, at least according to Bet365. The bookies have Alberto Contador as 1/1 favourite, with Chris Froome at 3/1 and Wiggins at 11/2.
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