• Cycling

Dowsett defends 'legend' Armstrong

ESPN staff
October 11, 2012

Team Sky cyclist Alex Dowsett believes Lance Armstrong "is still a legend of the sport" despite the mounting evidence behind accusations that the American masterminded one of the most extensive doping operations in sporting history.

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from elite sport for life by the United States Anti-Doping Agency after refusing to engage in its investigation in August.

The agency released over 1,000 pages of testimonies and documentary evidence implicating the Texas native on Wednesday.

But Briton Dowsett, who joined Team Sky from the US-based Trek-Livestrong squad, an under-23 development team founded by Armstrong, insists the accusations should not detract from the inspirational element of the American's story.

"He is still a legend of the sport - a guy who had cancer came back and won the Tour de France," Dowsett said. "I think it's not really important and I really don't think it matters.

"All I know is that we all are racing clean," Dowsett added. "So, it was a different sport back then."

Dowsett took to Twitter after racing in Stage Three of the Tour of Beijing to clarify his comments, saying he regards Armstrong as a legend "in regard to the charity work he has done. Also when I said it doesn't matter, what I mean is that we are racing clean now.

"I do think what Lance has done is completely unacceptable."

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford earlier on Thursday lamented a time when the sport had "lost its moral compass".

But Steve Cummings, racing against Dowsett in China, said any criticism of Armstrong had to be tempered by his work for charity.

"It is easy to say and point your finger on all the bad things but you could look at the good things he has done as well," the British BMC Racing rider said.

"He has done a lot good things, like his cancer charity, you know. When I met him, he was a nice guy to me."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.