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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 22 October, 2014

Doping ‘much bigger’ than just Armstrong, says Hamilton

“I’m sympathetic towards Lance Armstrong, it’s not easy,” the former Postal rider said.

Tyler Hamilton
Tyler Hamilton
Image: Bebeto Matthews/AP/Press Association Images

FORMER CYCLIST Tyler Hamilton believes the doping revelations about former team-mate Lance Armstrong are just the tip of the iceberg.

Hamilton was a member of the US Postal Service team alongside Armstrong when he won three of his seven Tour de France titles in 1999, 2000 and 2001 – victories that have been wiped from the record books in the wake of the evidence against the Texan.

A report published by the US Anti-Doping Agency in October accused Armstrong of using EPO and blood transfusions as well as bullying team-mates to do the same.

It was the testimony of some riders, including Hamilton, which led to Armstrong’s downfall. But Hamilton feels there are many other cyclists who should be facing the same scrutiny as Armstrong.

“This is a bigger story than just Lance,” Hamilton said. “There’s a lot more people we should be waiting for than just Lance Armstrong to come out and tell the truth. There’s a lot of truths out there that haven’t been told.

“A lot of damage has been done to the sport of cycling due to what happened in the past and it’s unfortunate.  Let’s get the truth out there so we can figure out why it happened, how it happened, who was involved. We need to figure out how we can prevent it from happening again in the future.”

Hamilton, who was suspended from the sport for two years in 2004 for positive drug tests and received an eight-year ban for a further positive test in 2009, called for an amnesty period where cyclists could confess to past doping offences without fear of suspension.

“I think we need to have some sort of truth and reconciliation program now,” he said. ”A short period of time, four to six months where you have the chance to come out and be clean, tell the truth, with a period of time and if you tell the truth there is no penalty.

“You will be able to figure out exactly what went wrong. They can map it exactly what went wrong and when, when it all started, when the whole culture started.”

Hamilton said he feels sorry for Armstrong, who he believes was the victim of a dark period in the sport’s history.

“I’m sympathetic towards Lance Armstrong, it’s not easy,” Hamilton said.  ”When he was growing and starting to become an athlete, he never wanted to dope. He wasn’t planning on doping. He came into a dark, dark culture.  It existed when he arrive in the cycling world. This whole thing is much, much bigger than Lance Armstrong.”

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