Cavendish: 'Stupid' people label cycling 'dirty'
Mark Cavendish insists the sport of cycling will always be considered "dirty" while the shadow of high profile doping cases hangs over it, and he insists only "stupid" people cannot see that today's batch of stars are clean from the sport's drug-riddled history.
Cavendish, like the rest of his peers, watched on this week as the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) issued a comprehensive report to determine Lance Armstrong guilty of doping. Evidence showed the seven-time Tour de France winner pressured team-mates into following suit, and heads are beginning to roll as individuals involved in the controversy come to light.
Armstrong's former manager Johan Bruyneel left the RadioShack Nissan Trek team on Friday after being implicated in the scandal, while several of Armstrong's former team-mates have been issued six-month bans.
The storm cloud currently engulfing cycling is threatening to overshadow a superb year for British cyclists, with Bradley Wiggins the reigning Tour de France champion and Olympic gold medallist. Several others also claimed gold at London 2012.
Cavendish knows the Armstrong investigation will harm the image of the sport, but he urged onlookers to judge cycling based on its current competitors.
"Everyone knows what cycling was like in the past and now cycling is getting tarnished again because of the past," Cavendish told Sky Sports News.
"The question I always get asked is, 'How can cycling move forward?' Well it is moving forward but people won't let it because there are cynics and people with closed minds and there is going to be stuff which comes up from the past.
"The amount of people who just say, 'cyclists' and then pretend to inject something in their arm - it's a stupid closed-minded view on it. Cheating happens everywhere - in every sport, in every country and in every aspect of life. [It happens] in entertainment, there are going to be journalists who cheat to get a better story.
"If you put the time, effort and money into catching the cheats then you will do it. Cycling does that and cycling brings up stuff from the past to do it."
Cavendish insists the latest findings on Armstrong should be used as a reason to praise cycling for its ever-improving regulations when it comes to drugs, rather than a further case to drag the sport's name through the mud.
"It's not fair to say it's a dirty sport, it's just that they (the anti-doping authorities) don't care about the image of the franchise. It shows that they wanted things to change and they still want to things to be better in the future."