Cycling still has more progress to be made in its fight against doping, according to journalist and former professional rider Paul Kimmage.
Kimmage made his comments on RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme ahead of the Giro d’Italia coming to Ireland in May.
He said: “There is still certainly a lot of questions over the sport, and how clean the sport [is], and how real the competition we’re going to see will be when it comes here in May.”
Kimmage claimed that in the Paris Roubaix a couple of days ago, a vial of pills dropped from a racer’s pocket during a crash.
“Now the point about it is this, rather than being specific to any rider or individual, it’s a general problem that still persists in the sport, that hasn’t gone away, despite what a lot of people say, with [...] Lance Armstrong. And that still needs to be addressed.
“The sport has made some progress in that regard, but there’s still more to be done.”
Kimmage said that some riders still complained about how difficult it was to race clean.
Referring to a book by Michael Barry, who left Team Sky last year, Kimmage described a chapter that detailed a “level of abuse of drugs in the sport that is as shocking as anything you will have read in Tyler Hamilton’s [book]”.
Kimmage said the book raised serious questions “not specifically for Team Sky, but about the level of doping in the sport”.
He said he was not against the Giro d’Italia coming to Ireland, but “it should come here with conditions and with questions that still should be asked of the sport”.
However, race organiser Darach McQuaid said cycling had done more in recent years than any sport to clean up its act.
“We can be fairly sure that the vast majority of young riders that we’re seeing here when they do come to Ireland to race the Giro will be racing clean,” McQuaid said.
Referring to current world number one, Alberto Contador, whose 2010 Tour de France and 2011 Giro d’Italia wins retrospectively voided when he tested positive for a minute quantity of the banned substance clenbuterol, McQuaid said Contador “suffered for the sport going even further than any other sport”.
“I’m not a scientist, but it was something like point and then twelve zeros, twelve pictograms of clenbuterol in his system.
“Most other sports probably looked at cycling when they saw Alberto Contador having a positive test for again whatever pictograms of clenbuterol in his system, and said, ‘My god,y’know, cycling is even doing too much'.
“Because, frankly, there are a lot of people who would say he should not have been sanctioned for such a miniscule amount of clenbuterol.”