GENEVA (AP) — Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen called Lance Armstrong's claim that he helped cover up the rider's doping at the 1999 Tour de France a "ridiculous story" and said Tuesday he has nothing to fear from an independent investigation.
Armstrong alleged collusion by Verbruggen during his first Tour victory in 1999 in an interview published Monday in Britain's Daily Mail.
After urine samples showed traces of a banned corticosteroid, Armstrong's team produced a backdated prescription for a saddle sores cream. He was allowed to continue riding toward a victory which revived the sport's popularity after damaging doping scandals.
"It's a ridiculous story and, in addition to that, it was not a positive (doping) case," Verbruggen told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "He must have reasons to come up with these allegations. I don't know what ... maybe to do with his court cases."
Verbruggen did say he spoke to Armstrong at the time.
"I might have told him that the UCI needs a prescription but I am sure that was handled by our anti-doping department, not me," he said. "According to our rules, it (the prescription) could be done afterwards."
Armstrong had declined to implicate the UCI during his interview with Oprah Winfrey in January, in which he admitted extensive doping, including with cortisone, during his seven Tour wins.
In this week's Daily Mail interview, he claimed Verbruggen instigated a cover-up to explain his positive tests at cycling's signature race, which had been wrecked by doping cases in 1998.
"The real problem was, the sport was on life support," Armstrong was quoted as saying. "And Hein just said, 'This is a real problem for me, this is the knockout punch for our sport ... so we've got to come up with something.'"
Verbruggen said cortisone ointment had been permitted.