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Cycling | International Cycling

Andy Schleck © Reuters Images

Today's riders paying price for doping - Schleck

Luxembourg's Andy Schleck said on Saturday that today's riders would pay the price for the systematic doping undertaken by disgraced seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.

Speaking ahead of the season-opening Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Schleck said most of the current riders were not even competing when the Texan began his doping regime in the late 1990s.

"When this all started I was 14, 15 years old so I came into a different era," the 27-year-old said. "I think it's a bit sad that we now have to pay the price for what happened 15 years ago."

Schleck finished second in the 2010 Tour de France but was awarded the race when Alberto Contador lost a legal battle relating to his own doping offence.

He said Armstrong's televised confession to Oprah Winfrey this week had not revealed anything new. "It's not really a surprise... because we knew the evidence beforehand," Schleck said.

"I think it's good for him, maybe it gets some weight off his shoulders but I believe the sad thing about it is that cycling is going to pay the price now, and it's sad if we have to pay the price for it when we weren't even professionals 15 years ago."

Belgium's Philippe Gilbert, the current world road race champion, said the riders on the professional circuit were sick of talking about Armstrong.

"It is part of the story of cycling of course, but it is the past and we just want to see something different now," he said.

Schleck said he was confident that Armstrong was not using drugs when he made his comeback to the sport in 2009.

"I'm confident he was clean because I beat him then (in the Tour de France)," he said. "I was clean, I know that I was always a clean rider and I keep on riding clean, so why should he be doped and be behind me?

"Like he said... it changed a lot in the mid-2000s when the biological passports started and out-of-competition controls started.

"I have full trust in them and I believe we are facing today a clean, clean sport. Doping was in the past and we need to learn from the past and focus on the future."

However, defending Tour Down Under champion, Australian Simon Gerrans, said the sport would never be completely drug free.

"I think the fight against doping is an ongoing battle, I don't think the sport will ever be 100 percent clean," he said.

"I don't think any professional sport will be 100 percent clean, because people cheat – that's human nature.

He said one of the most positive things to emerge from Armstrong's admissions was his comment that biological passports had made it impossible to do what he had done in the past.

"We are racing in a much, much cleaner sport these days."


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