11 October 2012

Hincapie - it was not possible to compete [drug free]

George Hincapie retired from cycling in August after completing his 17th start in the Tour de France. Then he was given the honour of leading the race unto the Champs-Élysées.

Yesterday he became the latest witness to come forward in the case against Lance Armstrong. He said:

"Because of my love for the sport, the contributions I feel I have made to it, and the amount the sport of cycling has given to me over the years, it is extremely difficult to acknowledge that during a part of my career I used banned substances."

He was served with a six month ban from September 2012 and stripped of his results from 31 May 2004 and 31 July 2006. He said that he had stopped using banned substances 6 years ago. But he was part of Armstrongs team at the time that he said "Given the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete without them." This was referring to the period he was one of the loyal lieutenants to Armstrong in the US Postal Team.

He did have something positive to say yesterday when he talked about the present of the sport.

"Thankfully, the use of performance enhancing drugs is no longer embedded in the culture of our sport, and younger riders are not faced with the same choice we had."

But the addition of Hincapie's testimony made all the more strange that he was still racing only this summer as a cyclist who had never tested positive during his 19 year career, yet now clearly was part of the team that USADA is calling a team-run doping conspiracy.

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