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Cycling | International

Merckx 'extremely disappointed' with Armstrong



Belgian cycling great Eddy Merckx on Friday said that he was "extremely disappointed" that Lance Armstrong doped his way to seven Tour de France victories.

"He admitted it and it's difficult to hear," said the five-time Tour winner.

"I was quite close to him and he often looked me right in the eyes when we discussed doping and obviously he said 'no'," said Merckx, who won a a record 34 stages on the Tour.

"Since the USADA (US anti-doping agency) published their report, I well imagined that things would go badly for him. My disappointment was already huge at the time but it is even more so now," he told Belgian daily Le Soir.

The fallen US icon told chatshow host Oprah Winfrey on Thursday that he had used a cocktail of drugs to become the most recognisable rider in the sport and said he thought it was impossible to win the race without cheating.

"It's a disaster for the other riders. It's so easy and so hypocritical," said Merckx

"The Armstrong era has been difficult for cycling and came after the Festina affair when we discovered (the blood booster) EPO (erythopoetin), etc.

"But that is not a reason to say someone cannot win the Tour de France without doping. When the other riders today hear that, they're really going go be happy," he continued sarcastically.

"I just want to emphasise how extremely disappointed I am and I didn't see it coming. I don't know how he could get to that stage, to lie to everyone and all the time.

"I just hope that the current crop of riders will not be too disillusioned by this news because it's they who have seen their jobs put under permanent suspicion. It's not simple but it's them I'm thinking of first."



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