Whistleblowers Deserve Lenient Treatment

David Millar, who was given a ban of two years for doping in 2004, has defended the lenient treatment of the 11 whistleblowers and former drug cheats who have helped expose seven-time Tour de France champion, Lance Armstrong.

The likes of George Hincapie, Michael Barry, Christian Vande Velde, David Zabriskie, and Tom Danielson enjoyed high profile and profitable careers before they admitted to making use of performance enhancing drugs alongside Armstrong and the United States Anti-Doping Agency reduced the sanctions on them and others who have testified against the cyclist by banning them just for six months. While Hincapie and Barry hardly felt it as they were always going to retire at the end of 2012 anyway, the ban on others will run largely through the off-season. One of the most trusted lieutenants of Armstrong, Hincapie, was allowed to complete his career and led the peloton down the Champs Elysees on the final day of the Tour de France after giving evidence early this year.

Britain’s Roger Hammond, Armstrong’s former Discovery Channel teammate, is of the view that the penalties imposed on the whistleblowers are too lenient and was surprised to know why these riders are only being given a six-month winter ban and wondered how can things be made right for drug cheats who lie about it for many years and then decide to drop somebody else in it and claim everything is all right. Hammond said the drug cheats who testified against Armstrong should be given the same ban as Lance Armstrong as they also cheated and took the risk and said he was really sorry for clean cyclist who never made the professional ranks because they were competing against dopers.

On the other hand, Millar said that there has to be something motivating for those who want to tell the truth and contribute to the cleaning of the game and the only this could have been done was by demonstrating leniency and said he was against total amnesty as there should be a punishment and consequence to some extent. Millar further added that there was never going to be a perfect way to bring resolution but this is as close as we could get.

He however said there should be no such leniency for the former president of the UCI Hein Verbruggen, now the honorary president, who oversaw the world governing body and its drug-testing program. Millar insisted that the first step for the governing body of cycling is to get Verbruggen removed and the current president, Pat McQuaid, has to distance himself as it was under the presidency of Verbruggen that it was at its worst and yet there were all these denials coming from the UCI and remarked that Verbruggen was at the head of the organization with the biggest doping problem in the history of the sport. Millar said he is looking to the future and teams like Team Garmin are one of the best teams that have forced the sport and the media to have a different view of things so that all can hold their heads high.

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