Sports

Lance-d because he deserved it

Travis Tygart, chief executive of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), hit back at comments from former International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid claiming there was a "witch hunt" against cycling's Lance Armstrong.

"It is easy for Pat McQuaid or others to say soundbites like he said," Tygart said, after an anti-doping intelligence seminar in Singapore yesterday.

"But the evidence is telling. There have been roughly 26 athletes, coaches, team doctors who have been held accountable. Several of them have gotten lifetime bans as well."

Armstrong (above), 43, was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and given a life ban from cycling by USADA in 2012 for using a cocktail of performance-enhancing drugs.

McQuaid, UCI's president from 2006 to 2013, said in a British radio interview last month that USADA wanted a big name and was not interested in the lesser-known riders, whom they made deals with to get the information on the high-profile ones.

Tygart, 43, questioned why Armstrong chose not to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) when the lifetime ban was imposed in 2012.

"Lance had every opportunity to challenge that sanction," Tygart said.

"And certainly Pat McQuaid could have appealed our decision to impose the lifetime ban... he certainly as the president of UCI had the appeal rights to go to CAS."

Tygart is thrilled how the UCI, now led by Briton Brian Cookson, has taken steps to reform the sport after the doping scandal.

One of the UCI's main goals is to determine how a culture of doping was perpetuated between 1998 and 2013, and to establish who was to blame.

It has appealed to riders who doped in the past to come forward in exchange for reduced punishment.

In a presentation at Furama Waterfront Hotel yesterday, Tygart revealed seven USADA fundamentals for an investigation into doping.

He spoke about understanding the doping culture, taking time with each case, and how one case can lead to another.

He cited former professional road racing cyclist and US national cycling team member, Joe Papp, who, after a two-year suspension from doping in 2006, is now an anti-doping advocate.

Papp became the USADA's first whistle-blower, leading all the way up to Armstrong.

"As sports fans, we don't agree on cheating, so we have to speak out," Tygart said, explaining that it was imperative for USADA to build relationships with athletes.

"Look at the money that's poured into amateur sports in the US, the college ranks, and professional sports across the globe.

"People just have to be candid about the temptations to cheat and ensure that we have robust processes in place that are going to give the absolute best chance to catch them."