Sun, Jun 30, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Comments overshadow Tour start

The Guardian, PORTO-VECCHIO, France

Meanwhile, Sir Dave Brailsford, Team Sky’s general manager and performance director of British Cycling, has again stressed that his riders have nothing to hide.

“I know from our perspective what we do and I know that we’re clean,” he said.

Brailsford also reflected with some wonderment on how cycling had survived a series of sledgehammer blows — from the Festina team doping scandal in 1998 onwards — that have turned even the sport’s biggest cheerleaders into cynics.

“People still love the Tour de France, despite everything that has happened,” he said. “When something takes a lot of hits and still keep on going, it shows it’s got resilience.”

Cycling certainly seems to be trying to wrench itself away from the era when needles were as common in the peloton as water bottles, but it is hard when the world’s most famous cyclist keeps dragging up its tainted past.

Christian Prudhomme, the general director of the Tour de France, responded to Armstrong’s claims by suggesting: “Maybe the only way for Armstrong to win was for him to take drugs.”

Prudhomme did acknowledge, however, that cycling was in dark place during the Armstrong era.

“We knew that this was a horrific period for cycling,” he said. “But maybe we weren’t aware just how horrific it was. It was scary for the sport.”

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