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The World Anti Doping Agency may have said that it doesn’t believe that Thor Hushovd violated the WADA Code when he didn’t inform authorities that Lance Armstrong had told in in 2011 that he had doped during his career, but US Anti Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart isn’t impressed.
The USADA CEO, who helped bring down Armstrong, is clear that he believes Hushovd had a moral responsibility to help the fight against doping once he learned such a key piece of information, but that the rider failed in that regard by keeping his mouth shut.
“You’re no hero when you sit still without doing something about injustice against great athletes,” Tygart said in an interview with VG.no. “It is especially difficult to do when someone in the sport is abusing his power by trying to attack the idea of a clean sport and clean athletes.
“It’s a sad day when athletes are afraid, or do not have the courage to stand up for fair play and integrity in sport. Doping Norway and USADA would very much like to hear from him why he did not do anything. Instead he sat quietly and let the lies and deception continue.”
Hushovd was asked by VG.no in 2012 if he believed the rider doped, and declined to answer. “I cannot comment on that,” he said then. The now-retired rider revealed on Wednesday that Armstrong had however told him in 2011 that he used banned substances, with that conversation happening when the duo spent time together in Hollywood after the Tour of California.
The Texan was speaking to him after he was publicly accused by former team-mate Tyler Hamilton of doping. While he was publicly insisting at the time that Hamilton was lying, he had no qualms about telling the truth to Hushovd. “We all did it,” he said that Armstrong told him then.
Given that he was aware of the rider’s guilt, Hushovd now accepts that his subsequent quotes on the subject to journalists were misleading.
“Many would probably say I almost defended Lance with my evasive answers,” he writes in his new autobiography Thor. “So be it. I did not need to judge him. Why should I jump on the wave and crucify Lance because the circumstances and the media expected it?”
Although Hushovd has insisted that he never doped during his career, he has been dismissive in recent days about spending money on what he called a ‘witch hunt for old sinners.’ Instead, he argues that money should be spent on improving the current anti-doping controls.
Tygart is clear that he sees this as flawed logic.
“It is the kind of thing you’d expect to hear from someone who sat still and let the deception continue,” he told VG.no. “Those who heard these things, however, should have said from. It will only be cleared up in the sport if those who have cheated in the past are held accountable for what they did. If you cheated before without getting caught, so chances are very much greater that you continue later – in the belief that you are never discovered. It gives little hope for all of us who love the sport.”
He said that Hushovd remaining quiet when others were getting attacked by Armstrong was incorrect.
The Texan finally admitted doping in January of last year. He was handed a lifetime ban by USADA.
Hushovd cultivated an anti-doping image during his career, but has been faulted this week for his silence over Armstrong and also over an occasion when he saw an unnamed professional inject himself in a hotel room.
He was previously thought to have been friends with Armstrong but has now claimed that they were never close.
– Hushovd says Armstrong admitted doping to him in 2011, believes UCI likely hid evidence [link]
– WADA confirms Hushovd didn’t break anti-doping Code in relation to Armstrong [link]