LANCE Armstrong and other top pro cyclists were repeatedly warned by the sport’s world governing body when they were teetering on testing positive to banned drugs.

Hein Verbruggen, president of the Union Cycliste Internationale when Armstrong was king, and still an honorary UCI president and International Olympic Committee member, has made the stunning admission to a Dutch magazine.

Verbruggen, who maintains his defence of Armstrong was justified during his tenure as UCI boss, told Vrij Nederland in a story published on Wednesday that "one by one" dozens of leading cyclists and team bosses were invited to UCI headquarters to be briefed on anti-doping strategies.

Verbruggen said the UCI's chief doctor, Mario Zorzoli, shared critical information about suspect values and general information on the organisation’s anti-doping strategies. Other cyclists received telephone calls from either Zorzoli or UCI anti-doping commissioner Lon Schattenberg.

"You might convince them not to use doping any more or you might not," said Verbruggen.

Armstrong confirmed in his selective confession last week that he had donated money to the UCI, which he repeatedly said he was "not a fan" of. But he insisted he made the donations because he was asked by the UCI – not because he was paying the organisation off for any cover-ups, as has been widely alleged.

Armstrong's former teammate Tyler Hamilton maintains Armstrong informed him personally at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland that he tested positive to drugs. Hamilton’s view, as told to the US Anti-Doping Agency that stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and banned him for life, is that the UCI covered up the positive test. The UCI and Armstrong have strenuously denied that.

Verbruggen, in another recent interview with Dutch magazine De Muur, argued the responsibility to catch drug cheats lay with drug testers – not with the UCI.

"If you test someone 215 times and he is always negative, then the problem is in the test itself," he said.

"I'm not responsible. I don't understand the whole fuss at all."

An independent commission set up by the UCI to probe claims about alleged cover-ups is due to meet for the first time on Friday.

The World Anti-Doping Agency and USADA say they will not co-operate with the commission because of the tight deadline the UCI has set the independent commission and because it has set the terms of reference.