LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s most successful Olympian Chris Hoy believes cycling can now move on from the Lance Armstrong doping scandal while fans in a nation now in love with the sport have complete faith in their successful riders.
American Armstrong, who had already been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, finally admitted to doping on U.S. television on Thursday in another hammer blow for a sport which has long battled a drugs problem.
Hoy, who has won seven Olympic medals on the track including six golds, backed his road team mates and said cycling could still flourish despite Armstrong’s confession.
“There’s nothing new we’ve seen today in the news. Everybody expected him to come out and to tell the truth,” Hoy, 36, told reporters on Friday at the London bike show.
”But we’ve got to remember it’s one man, it’s one part of the sport, it’s not the whole sport. The majority of cyclists, the huge majority of cyclists out there are clean.
“We are showing that we can win gold medals and you can be clean and be proud of your sport and show that not all cyclists are like Lance Armstrong,” Hoy added after British cycling had launched their new kit.
Cycling has long been a popular pastime in Britain but Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France triumph last July followed soon afterwards by his Olympic gold in the London Games time trial catapulted the sport into the mainstream as Hoy also added two golds to his list.
Team Sky’s Wiggins was named the 2012 BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Britain’s most prestigious annual sporting prize, a year after fellow cyclist Mark Cavendish had claimed the award.
Fans at the bike show, packed with stands selling all sorts of cycling paraphernalia, were confident that cycling had long turned the corner with a huge increase in drug tests being enforced since the Armstrong era.
“Wiggins is a hero, you can’t tarnish him,” said Phil Coverdale. “Britain and cycling has had a lot of positives after the Olympics and the Tour, it’s a shame there is this negative.”
Tim Barclay added: ”Cycling is very different now. I think with Lance, deep down everyone knew, especially in recent years with so many other top cyclists of his time being exposed.
”It is sad to see one of the most spectacular falls from grace ever.
“You thought with all the other scandals, he couldn’t have won the Tour without help. But that’s not the case nowadays.”
Editing by John Mehaffey