Madrid: Spanish champion cyclist Miguel Indurain said Tuesday he believed Lance Armstrong was innocent of the doping scandal that has seen the US rider stripped of seven Tour de France titles. (File Photo - 1994 - Armstrong and Indurain)
"Even now I believe in his innocence. He has always respected all the regulations... He has won all the cases he's had," said Indurain, who won the Tour de France five times consecutively in 1991-1995.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) on Monday gave its backing to a report by the US Anti-Doping Agency that placed Armstrong at the heart of the biggest doping programme in sport.
It annulled his record back to August 1, 1998, making Indurain once again the joint record-holder in the world's top cycling race, alongside the Belgian Eddy Merckx and Frenchmen Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil.
Indurain expressed doubts about the disciplinary procedures against Armstrong, who was sanctioned on the basis of testimonies by former team mates cited in the US agency's report, not on the results of doping tests.
"I am a bit surprised. It is a bit strange that this has only been based on testimonies," Indurain said on Radio Marca. "The rules said one thing and now it seems they have changed."
Indurain added that Armstrong "has always been a fighter. What surprises me is that he doesn't keep fighting... I think he will come back and appeal and try to show that he played fair for all those years".