Call for amnesty for cyclists

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Armstrong_Postal AP The U.S. Postal Service team leader Lance Armstrong, third from right, framed by his teammates.

Sydney – The head of Cycling Australia on Friday called for a doping amnesty following the far-reaching Lance Armstrong drugs scandal.

CA president Klaus Mueller has backed an amnesty despite the Union Cycliste Internationale, the world governing body, last month ruling out such a step for riders who took performance-enhancing drugs during their careers.

The US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) has accused seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong of being at the centre of a widespread doping conspiracy with 11 of the Texan's former team-mates testifying against him.

Mueller said it would take time to digest Usada's 202-page report, published on Wednesday, which alleged Armstrong enforced a drugs culture at the US Postal team during his reign as one of cycling's most successful riders.

“Until we've had a chance to do that, it's impossible to say whether any Cycling Australia members are implicated,” Mueller said in a statement.

“But it might now be time to consider a range of options including an amnesty for athletes who have cheated in the past to own up to any wrongdoing and have their confessions mitigate any subsequent penalties.

“This would be dependent on the nature and extent of any infraction.”

Mueller said his organisation shared “the disappointment of cycling fans that feel let down when people they looked up to as sporting heroes turn out to be cheats”.

“We hope the magnitude and profile of this case will prove to be a turning point for the sport and an opportunity for everyone involved in cycling to reinforce their commitment and efforts to stamp out doping.”

Australia has a number of links to Armstrong. He made his comeback to racing in January 2009 at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, and then in 2011, he raced professionally for the final time in the same event. – Sapa-AFP

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