17 December 2020

Tour de France champion Pogacar confident ‘doping has been reduced a lot in cycling’ since Armstrong era

Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar believes doping in cycling has been significantly reduced since the rampant years of Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong won a record seven Tour titles in a row between 1999 and 2005 but was subsequently stripped of all of them for doping offences, in a culture known to be common during cycling in his era.

And while some question current winners such as Pogacar - who won the title with a sensational final time trial to pip fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic - the 22-year-old understands why there will be a cloud of suspicion around those at the top of the sport because of its chequered past.

Armstrong was stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles in 2012

(DPA/PA Images)

"All those who win the Tour are suspect and that’s because of the past of some of them. That’s the history of cycling: there have been so many cases that it’s difficult for people to believe," he told L’Equipe.

"We still need time to come out of that and gain respect again. We have to live with that. We don’t talk about it among ourselves. We concentrate on what we’re doing: trying to be one of the best teams in the world, finding the best material, improving everything we can."

When asked whether he was aware of the past doping culture before entering the professional ranks, Pogacar then added: "Yes, when I was young [..] everybody talked a lot about that.

"At the club, every year, we had to sign a charter saying that we’d never dope. I signed that for a decade.  

"Last June, I watched the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on Lance Armstrong. I discovered just where all that could take somebody. Today, I have the feeling that doping has been reduced a lot in cycling."

Pogacar’s victory in Paris earlier this year made him the youngest Tour winner in 112 years.

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