British greats shocked at Armstrong betrayal
Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins and cycling's most decorated Olympian Sir Christopher Hoy expressed shock and dismay at the deluge of damning evidence of drug-taking against fallen icon Lance Armstrong.
The British duo pulled no punches in their reaction to the publication by the US Anti-Doping Agency of its report labelling the seven-time Tour de France winner a serial drugs cheat.
Wiggins insisted he was already suspicious about Armstrong after persistent rumours of drug use, but conceded he was taken aback at the scale of Armstrong's deceit with his US Postal team.
"It's pretty damning stuff. It is pretty jaw-dropping the amount of people who have testified against him," Wiggins told Sky News on Thursday.
"It is certainly not a one-sided hatchet job, it is pretty damning. I am shocked at the scale of the evidence.
"I have been involved in pro cycling for a long time and I realise what it takes to train and win the Tour de France. I'm not surprised by it. I had a good idea what is going on."
Wiggins had no sympathy for the American and admitted he was frustrated that the Texan's behaviour remained the main talking point in cycling at the end of his memorable year.
"My main concern is that I am standing here as the winner of the Tour de France," Wiggins said.
"We are the ones picking these pieces up. For me it is about moving forward and not looking back any more to what happened 10, 15 years ago.
"It always is (frustrating answering questions about drugs cheats). It is not something which sits easily. Everyone knows where we stand on that, it is about looking forward.
"We are one of the most successful sports for catching people.
"I don't think that is relevant to what we are doing today. What we are doing today is setting the example for our sport."
Wiggins's views were echoed by Hoy, who spoke of his disgust of USADA's claims that Armstrong enforced a drugs culture at US Postal during his reign as one of cycling's most successful riders.
Hoy told BBC Radio Five: "It's so depressing because of the guy's books he wrote that were inspirational to people with cancer, and his cancer charity on one side doing so many positive things. Then you find out this.
"I think it's the scale of it that's really shocked people as well as who it is. The number of people involved, it's on a huge scale."
The most successful Olympic cyclist of all-time said he had harboured suspicions about Armstrong at the time of his Tour de France victories, but tried to give him the benefit of the doubt.
"You have to take those performances at face value," he added. "Until they're proven guilty I think you have to assume that they're clean.
"In that era, there were a lot of people testing positive. The guys who were coming second and third behind Lance were testing positive so there was an element of suspicion surrounding him, but I always try and give people the benefit of the doubt."
Hoy insisted the sport must try and move on from the scandal in a bid to clean up its reputation.
"At least cycling is doing something to try to eradicate it no matter how big the name is, but it is very sad," he said.
"It's so hard on these athletes, myself included, who work very hard. We do it clean, we put in years and years of effort and we make sure we have the correct diet and we rest properly.
"We don't go out drinking. You sacrifice a lot and then you win a gold medal but there will be a percentage thinking 'well, I wonder if there was drugs involved in that performance'.
"So it's frustrating, and it's sad, but at least we're actually naming and shaming people, and it doesn't matter how big the names are."
Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by USADA and banned from the sport for life after the organisation claimed he orchestrated the most sophisticated doping programme ever seen.