UCI President Pat McQuaid has defended his belief that the lack of positive test by Lance Armstrong left the organisation with its hands tied.
In an interview with RTÉ, McQuaid insisted the organisation had done all it could to investigate the American rider despite suspicions about some tests.
Yesterday the UCI upheld the findings of a USADA report on doping and banned Armstrong for life and stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles.
The UCI President told Today with Pat Kenny that suggestions about riders doping were followed up with increased testing and Armstrong was one of the riders under suspicion from tests in 2001.
"In terms of suspicious tests, there was occasions when the laboratory would tell us that a sample didn’t rank as positive, and this would be in a private conversation and wouldn’t come back in a report, but there were suspicions out of it.
"If that happened we would call the riders in and say we’re after you and we will to test you more. And we did, we caught riders and threw them out as a result."
McQuaid gave an example of 2001 where Armstrong had come close to a positive test and the American was targeted by testers.
"That was the Tour de Suisse and very soon after would be the Tour de France and those riders would have been target tested at the Tour de France.
"We do know that Lance Armstrong was one of them and he certainly was tested heavily during the Tour de France."
"At the time the tools we had to fight doping were very limited" - Pat McQuaid
McQuaid continued to stress his feeling that it was what he described as "limited" doping testing in that era that allowed riders to avoid positive results rather than the UCI’s attempt to turn a blind eye to cheating in the sport.
"It is easy in 2012 with all the tools we have against doping to look back on 2002, 2003 and 2004 and say why didn’t we do this and why didn’t we do that. The fact of the matter is at the time the tools we had to fight doping were very limited.
"There was no EPO test, we were the first to use it in 2001. All we had at that time was the controls that went to the laboratories, the laboratories reported back positive or negative. If it was positive we sanctioned, if was negative we didn’t.
"This is as much information as we had. Now we have a lot more information because we have the biological passport, we have blood values etc.
"WADA weren’t around in those days - well they were formed in 1998 - but lets face it, the UCI tested Lance Armstrong 218 times. USADA, on their website, they state they tested him 52 times. WADA themselves tested him on many occasions. All of those results were negative.
"Even this current report from USADA couldn’t have been done without federal investigators and it was the federal investigators, the police, who got the interviews and affidavits from the athletes.
"The athletes didn’t come voluntary, the police went after them.
"You also have to remember that the UCI, the same as USADA, the same as any other international federation, do not have police powers. We called in many riders and said 'we are suspicious of you, you’re up to something, what are you doing'.
"The rider would say I’m not doing anything.
"Even Tyler Hamilton who has written his book and made his statement saying he wants to come over to Aigle in Switzerland to tell the UCI how it was all done, Tyler Hamilton was in the UCI office in 2002 and he was attacked and his defence was your machines must not be right and the tests are wrong.
"This is a guy that spent four years in front of jurisdiction or court after another trying to claim that he was born with a twin or something like that which caused his bloods to be such and such that he was caught positive. He spent four years defending himself telling lies.
"I’m not going to say that this is necessarily a lie. But the facts are there were no arrangements between Lance Armstrong and the UCI. There was no positive test. In the USADA report, there was nowhere it says that Lance Armstrong tested positive."