- White admits to doping with Armstrong team
- UCI defiant despite Armstrong ban
Cadel Evans is a true champion whose 2011 Tour de France triumph should not be tarnished by the doping revelations which have rocked cycling this week, says former pro cyclist Tyler Hamilton.
Hamilton, among 11 former teammates whose testimony led to a life ban imposed on seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, lamented on Sunday that his era, the decade from the mid-1990s, was rife with doping.
But despite the American's belief that there are "still a lot of bad apples" in the sport, he says Evans' historic victory is beyond question.
"I think you have to question some of the results of the past (but) I don't think you have to question Cadel Evans' result from last year's Tour de France," Hamilton told Channel Nine's Weekend Today.
"From what I've heard about Cadel Evans, he's a true champion.
"He's always been a big anti-doping advocate.
"I can't say anything negative about Cadel Evans. I've a lot of respect for Cadel Evans."
One of Evans' teammates, recently retired American rider George Hincapie, is among those to admit doping while riding with Armstrong's team which ruled the Tour de France from 1995-2005, but he said he rode clean from then on.
Cycling analysts have noted that average times during Evans' tour win were significantly down on those when Armstrong's team ruled from 1999 to 2005.
Hamilton stated his belief that most tour riders from his era, prior to his own two-year suspension for blood doping in 2004, were guilty of cheating to some degree.
That group includes Matt White, one of the most influential figures in Australian cycling, who retired in 2007 but on Saturday confessed to doping during his time at Armstrong's US Postal team.
White stood down from his positions as sports director for Australian pro tour team Orica-GreenEDGE and Cycling Australia's men's road racing coordinator after being implicated in what was described as the "most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen" by the US Anti-Doping Agency.
"Unfortunately it is the dark part of cycling, and the dark culture. That era doping was just all around," Hamilton said.
"At least 80 per cent of the peloton back 10, 12 years ago were doping to some degree.
"... The guys who rode in that dark era of cycling, I would not be surprised if they did participate in doping.
"Now that I'm older and wiser, yeah I made the wrong choice. But at that time when I was young, 24, 25 years old, these older doctors came to me and said I need to do this for my career.
"We all were put into this position. So as for the Australian cyclists, I'm sure they were all put in that position at one point."
Hamilton said there were still current riders competing who had doping pasts but had yet to come forward - and believed the only way for the sport to advance was to learn from past mistakes.
"Unfortunately there still are a lot of bad apples in the sport today," Hamilton said.
"Directors, general managers, even current riders from the past that have not come clean.
"If we don't figure out what happened in the past, how it happened, why it happened and how we can prevent it from happening in the future, how do we know it's not going to happen again in two or three more years?"