Lance shouldn't be singled out - Jonker

Lance Armstrong has always denied any involvement with doping

Lance Armstrong has always denied any involvement with doping

First published in National Sport News © by

A former team-mate of Lance Armstrong claims he should not be singled out for criticism despite the damning findings of the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

Armstrong was said to have orchestrated "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen" in the USADA report which provided the written reasons behind their decision to strip him of his seven Tour de France titles and to ban him from the sport for life. He decided earlier this year not to contest the USADA charges, but has always denied any involvement with doping.

Australian Patrick Jonker, who rode for Armstrong's US Postal team in 2000, told Radio Five Live: "Reading the report, I don't think Lance could have acted as the sole power behind this. I believe you must have had the knowledge of a doctor to enforce this. To crucify Lance and only Lance would be unfair, they need to crucify the sport during that era."

Although drug-taking was seemingly rife during the early part of the last decade, Jonker, who insisted he had never taken performance-enhancing substances himself, denied everyone at US Postal was involved.

"During that period, I was definitely aware that there were athletes using performance-enhancing drugs but I don't believe it was to the extent that USADA are coming out with," he added.

"The USADA were saying that in the Dauphine race three weeks before the Tour de France that there was a blanket use of performance-enhancing drugs in that particular race by the team, and I was in the team with Tyler and Lance. The USADA pointing the finger at pretty much everyone is unfair.

"Me, myself, I am pretty sure the majority of the team were not taking drugs. In cycling then there was a problem but it was not a blanket."

Armstrong was accused of intimidating team-mates into taking banned substances to boost his own chances of success, but Jonker said he was never approached by the Texan.

"He never had the conversation with me," he said "I wasn't a big player in the game, I was a worker, lower down the ladder, often in the B team."

Meanwhile, Team Sky rider Alex Dowsett, speaking at the Tour of Beijing, insisted the USADA's findings did not change his view of Armstrong, saying: "I don't think it really matters, he's still a legend in the sport. The guy survived cancer and came back to win the Tour de France. It's not really important. All I know is that we are racing clean and it was a different sport back then."

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