Webber distances himself from Armstrong

KATE HAGAN
Last updated 11:02 30/01/2013
Mark Webber
Getty Images
MARK WEBBER: "You rubbed a lot of people's noses in it for so long and treated the rest of us like idiots," he said of Lance Armstrong.

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Formula One driver Mark Webber distanced himself from his former buddy Lance Armstrong in 2008 after starting to doubt his doping denials.

In a column for the BBC sport website today, Webber said he struck up a friendship with Armstrong over a couple of years and went riding with him on occasion but became disillusioned after he failed to show up for the Monaco Grand Prix.

"That, coupled with the persistent rumours about Armstrong being a serial liar and a drug cheat, and long conversations I had had with the respected sports journalist Paul Kimmage (who had been on Armstrong's case for years), made me realise that perhaps he wasn't all I had hoped him to be," Webber wrote.

"I kept asking myself how it was that everyone who beat Armstrong tested positive but he never did. It became a very heavy and difficult subject to discuss with the mutual friends we shared.

"I told them two years ago that he had to come clean but they felt it was something he was unlikely to do. The word "defiant" always seemed to crop up. Armstrong was defiant all the way; he believed he was clean."

Webber said Armstrong's defiance remained evident in his confessional interview with Oprah Winfrey this month, where he admitted using performance-enhancing drugs during seven Tour de France victories.

He said Armstrong "admitted he was a doper, but still didn't see it as cheating".

Webber wrote: "I think what's staggering to everyone is the amount of people he was prepared to take out on the way up; people who were morally on the right side of the bridge.

"He wasn't worried about the ramifications and the position he may have put these people in; it was all about Planet Lance."

While Armstrong told Winfrey it was unjust that he had received the "death penalty" while other confessed dopers served far more lenient sanctions, Webber said the fall-out was deserved.

"You rubbed a lot of people's noses in it for so long and treated the rest of us like idiots," Webber said.

"Whenever I think of Armstrong now, I think of the clean cyclists who competed in the system Armstrong was fuelling week in, week out."

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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