Bradley Wiggins believes people should not judge Lance Armstrong too harshly, saying he too might have been tempted to dope had it not been for British Cycling.
The 41-year-old Texan was named by the United States Anti-Doping Agency this week as being a central figure in a major doping scheme by the US Postal team and has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
With 11 of Armstrong’s former teammates testifying against him, including Wiggins’ fellow Team Sky rider Michael Barry, many have been quick to condemn him. But Briton Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France champion, believes there are bigger issues on which to focus. “It’s not about Armstrong, it’s about the culture of the sport for so many years,” Armstrong said in The Daily Telegraph.
“People like Michael Barry, I can relate to that, I turned pro 10 years ago, and how it felt going in aged 22, with the peer pressure with the likes of Lance Armstrong in a team like US Postal where it was systematic.
“You stand by the decisions you make then for the rest of your life, David Millar was the same. You shouldn’t persecute people forever, we’re not talking about Jimmy Savile here.
“But those decisions stay with you for your whole career and I was very fortunate that I was in a system in British Cycling that, regardless of what team I was in, they supported me with the right way to deal with it. They probably saved me else it might have been me, who knows. Peer pressure was huge.”