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Although he was criticized this week by Norwegian anti-doping authorities for not telling anyone that Lance Armstrong had admitted doping to him in 2011, Thor Hushovd appears not to have broken the World Anti Doping Agency’s rules in the matter.
According to a WADA spokesman, Hushovd’s decision not to speak out about Armstrong’s admission to him did not violate article 2.9 of the revised WADA code, which deals with the offence of complicity.
This is defined as ‘assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, conspiring, covering up or any other type of intentional complicity involving an anti-doping rule violation, attempted anti-doping rule violation or violation of Article 10.12.1 [participating in events while suspended – ed.] by another Person.’
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, speaking to him when the duo spent time together in Hollywood after the Tour of California.
“We all did it,” he said that Armstrong told him then. The Texan was speaking to him after he was publicly accused by former team-mate Tyler Hamilton of doping.
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. “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?”
WADA and others might well have preferred if Hushovd had spoken out and thus helped the investigations which were in place at the time, but it appears that no actual rules were broken by the rider’s silence.
“Under Article 2.9 of the revised (2015) Code, there is no obligation for an athlete to take the initiative to report doping,” the spokesman said in response to an enquiry from CyclingTips. “Rather, a potential infraction could include intentionally lying or misleading authorities when it relates to doping.
“There would need to be one of the intentional forms of complicity outlined in Article 2.9 in order for there to be a potential infraction.”
The same would appear to apply to another situation described by Hushovd in his book Thor. “I was going to meet a friend,” he writes. “He rode for another team, but I knew what hotel he was staying in and I burst into the room without knocking.
“There sat one of his team-mates with a syringe in his arm and five other riders on the bed as spectators. I turned on my heel and walked right back out. It looked really freaky.”
Hushovd took a large number of victories during his career in the sport, including ten Tour de France stages and the 2010 world road race championship.
He insists in his book that he never doped, although he appears to be backtracking on an earlier statement when he said that he never saw any signs of riders using banned substances in the peloton.