Schleck says riders today will pay the price for Armstrong

AFP, ADELAIDE, Australia

Sun, Jan 20, 2013 - Page 18

Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck said yesterday that today’s riders would pay the price for the systematic doping undertaken by Lance Armstrong.

Speaking ahead of the season-opening Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Schleck said most of the current riders were not even competing when the Texan began his doping regime in the late 1990s.

“When this all started I was 14, 15 years old so I came into a different era,” the 27-year-old said. “I think it’s a bit sad that we now have to pay the price for what happened 15 years ago.”

He said Armstrong’s televised confession to Oprah Winfrey this week had not revealed anything new.

“It’s not really a surprise ... because we knew the evidence beforehand,” Schleck said.

“I think it’s good for him, maybe it gets some weight off his shoulders, but I believe the sad thing about it is that cycling is going to pay the price now, and it’s sad if we have to pay the price for it when we weren’t even professionals 15 years ago.”

Schleck said he was confident that Armstrong was not using drugs when he made his comeback to the sport in 2009.

“I’m confident he was clean because I beat him then [in the Tour de France],” he said. “I was clean, I know that I was always a clean rider and I keep on riding clean, so why should he be doped and be behind me?”

“Like he said ... it changed a lot in the mid-2000s when the biological passports started and out-of-competition controls started,” Schleck said. “I have full trust in them and I believe we are facing today a clean, clean sport. Doping was in the past and we need to learn from the past and focus on the future.”

However, defending Tour Down Under champion, Australian Simon Gerrans, said the sport would never be completely drug free.

“I think the fight against doping is an ongoing battle, I don’t think the sport will ever be 100 percent clean,” he said. “I don’t think any professional sport will be 100 percent clean, because people cheat — that’s human nature.”