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UCI said to have turned blind eye to Armstrong

LOS ANGELES -- The International Cycling Union (UCI) likely turned a blind eye to alleged doping by Lance Armstrong and others, the former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has suggested.

Richard Pound said he complained for years to the UCI that the seven-time Tour de France winner and other cyclists were given advance notice of their drug tests and then allowed to go off unsupervised.

“It is not credible that they didn't know this was going on,” Pound told AFP in an interview Friday. “I had been complaining to UCI for years.”

Pound, who was head of WADA from 1999-2007, said drug testers would do tests on riders in the early-morning, hours before they had to appear for a competition.

“The race starts at 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. in afternoon and there are no tests prior to race to see if they are bumped up,” he said, adding that after races, competitors had an unchaperoned hour before being tested.

“So then you go in and get saline solutions and other means of hiding the effects (of performance-enhancing drug) EPO and whatever else it is,” he said.

“You have to say 'I wonder if it was designed not to be successful?'”

Pound's comments come in the wake of a damning U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) report that charged Armstrong with orchestrating the most complex doping scheme in sports history.

Released Wednesday, it detailed Armstrong's alleged use of testosterone, human growth hormone, blood doping and EPO and included sworn statements from 26 people, including 11 former teammates.

“Where the rubber really hits the road is with UCI,” Pound said. “If they persist with denial then they put their whole sport in jeopardy” because these investigations may spread to the Spanish and Italian pro cycling communities, among others.

“If all these show the same behavior as (U.S. Postal Service) and UCI never seemed to be able to deal with it, they can't be so blind to not know this was going on.”

UCI President Pat McQuaid told AFP earlier this week that the sport has moved on from its murky past and better tests meant riders were now much cleaner than in previous days, which are the focus since Armstrong was labeled a serial drug cheat by the USADA.

“The sport has moved on,” McQuaid said. “The peloton today is completely different.”

Pound, in reference to the USADA report, said he was dismayed by the scope and vivid details of the alleged doping practices by Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service teammates.

“I thought it was a very thoroughly researched report with evidence sworn or otherwise,” said Pound, who remains on WADA's 38-member Foundation Board.

“I was disappointed to see the extent of the scheme and of the conspiracy and the large number of people involved in it,” he said.

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