Detectors may have known of Lance Armstrong doping
World Anti-Doping Agency director general David Howman said Lance Armstrong pursued what appears to be a systematic doping program for a decade "probably with the knowledge" of people who were charged with detecting drug cheats.
done is broken the (code of silence) to do that and I suppose that's taken quite a bit of courage."
Howman said the USADA investigation had struck a significant blow against drug cheats in cycling, but "I think it will take a while to get rid of the culture that still pervades the whole sport."
"From our perspective, it's showing that cheats don't really prosper and we don't want them to," he said. "To support the clean athletes, you've got to make sure that those who have cheated for a while, when they are found out, are brought to heel."
Armstrong's decision not to defend or contest the charges made against him was surprising, Howman said.
"To be honest, I was surprised when he decided not to take part in the whole hearing process. There was his chance to tell everybody what the situation was, he would be able to cross-examine all of those who were giving evidence against him," Howman said. "I guess he decided on the advice of his lawyers not to partake and so it has led to this.
"It's a bit difficult now to see how he can sit on the sidelines and criticize it when he didn't even front up. That's not really the mark of the clean athlete."
Howman said WADA was now waiting to see whether cycling's governing body, the UCI, would support the sanctions against Armstrong recommended by USADA which could include a lifetime ban and the annulment of his seven Tour de France titles.
"The answer now is in the hands of the international cycling union because they have a right to appeal this and I'm sure they they'll look at it very carefully to decide whether they accept the jurisdiction of the U.S., whether they accept the process they've followed and whether they accept the results they've achieved," he said. "If they don't, then they'll appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. If they elect not to do anything, then we (WADA) have got a right to appeal as well.
"We'll consider that in the same light. But at the end of that if nobody does anything the penalties remain, the sanctions remain and Armstrong remains the recipient of the report which shows him to be a cheat for all of his career."
In an earlier statement, WADA president John Fahey welcomed USADA's "reasoned decision" in the Armstrong case. But the statement said it would be inappropriate to comment further until the UCI had decided whether it would take the matter to appeal. It has 21 days to do so.