Salisbury JournalVerbruggen must resign - Millar (From Salisbury Journal)

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Verbruggen must resign - Millar

Salisbury Journal: David Millar, pictured, believes Hein Verbruggen should stand down David Millar, pictured, believes Hein Verbruggen should stand down

British cyclist David Millar has called for the International Cycling Union's (UCI) honorary president Hein Verbruggen to resign in the wake of the Lance Armstrong doping revelations.

A report by the US anti-doping agency (USADA) has stated Armstrong was a serial drug-taker at the centre of a systematic and widespread programme of doping by members of his team US Postal during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Verbruggen was president of the UCI during that time and as recently as last year insisted seven-times Tour de France winner Armstrong had "never, never, never" used doping. The 71-year-old Dutchman is still honorary president and a member of the UCI's management committee.

Millar, who served a two-year ban after admitting to doping in 2004, is now a member of the athletes committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency. He said: "The UCI have to accept they have to carry some responsibility for this because it was obvious what was going on. The UCI had all the blood data, the medical reports, it was part of the culture of the sport and in the big races the majority of riders were doing it on drugs.

"The first step for the UCI is that Verbruggen has to be removed. There is no doubt about that - [current president] Pat McQuaid has to distance himself because it was under Verbruggen's presidency that it was at its worst and yet there were all these denials coming from the UCI.

"He was at the head of the organisation with the biggest doping problem in history of sport. He's still there. He doesn't have to commit hari kari, he should just admit that mistakes were made, and we have all made mistakes. But the UCI is not a commercial company so there is no one to answer to."

According to the USADA report, in May last year, responding to a claim by Armstrong's former team-mate Tyler Hamilton that the UCI did not take action on a positive Armstrong test, Verbruggen reacted saying: "That's impossible, because there is nothing. I repeat again: Lance Armstrong has never used doping. Never, never, never. And I say this not because I am a friend of his, because that is not true. I say it because I'm sure."

The UCI have said they will examine the USADA report and evidence within the next three weeks but will not delay a response "any longer than necessary". Meanwhile, the scandal claimed another casualty on Friday after it was announced that Johan Bruyneel, team director of the US Postal team during the Armstrong era, was leaving his post as general manager of the RadioShack Nissan Trek team by mutual agreement.

A statement from the team said: "The reasoned decision published by the USADA included a number of testimonies as a result of their investigation. In light of these testimonies, both parties feel it is necessary to make this decision since Johan Bruyneel can no longer direct the team in an efficient and comfortable way.

"The USADA investigation does not concern the activities of Mr Bruyneel while managing the RadioShack Nissan Trek team. Johan Bruyneel contests the validity of the procedure as well as the charges against him."

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