Lance Armstrong 'a scapegoat' says Pat McQuaid, ex-UCI chief

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Armstrong on drugs, history and the future

Banned cyclist Lance Armstrong has been harshly treated, according to former head of world cycling Pat McQuaid.

Armstrong, 43, was given a life ban from all sport and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping.

McQuaid, former president of world governing body the International Cycling Union (UCI), said he had "a certain sympathy" with the American.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: "He was very much made a scapegoat, there was a witch hunt after Armstrong."

The Irishman was UCI president from 2006 to 2013 before being replaced by Brian Cookson.

McQuaid was speaking following a BBC interview with Armstrong in which the cyclist criticised current incumbent Cookson for his handling of the Astana doping affair.

When a United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) report published in October 2012 labelled Armstrong a "serial" cheat, McQuaid - still in his UCI role - said the Texan had "no place in cycling".

But McQuaid now says Armstrong was treated differently from other cyclists who were also doping.

He explained: "That's the way it was. Usada wanted a big name.

"They weren't really interested in the smaller riders and also they made deals with the smaller riders in order to get the information they needed on the big guys.

"I can have a certain sympathy because I don't think in sport, people in those situations, I think they should be treated equally."

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