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Cavendish: Doping scandal is tainting clean riders

Mark Cavendish has claimed the Lance Armstrong doping scandal has unfairly tainted cyclists who are riding clean.

The disgraced Texan was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for taking banned substances.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency revealed Armstrong and his United States Postal Service team ran "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen" and other teams and riders have become embroiled in the scandal since the publication of their reasoned decision document.

Cavendish said: "If this negativity had come to cycling 10 years ago I would accept it, but the negativity is coming to cycling now because of what happened years ago and that's not right.

"It's not fair to paint everyone with the same brush. Look at what happened with Jimmy Savile -- you can't accuse every TV presenter of what he's been accused of. Since I turned pro I've not seen anything that suggests it's not clean. I'm riding clean and winning the biggest bike races in the world and I'm not actually that good.

"So if I'm winning clean then people can't be cheating. You might get the odd d******d, but they will get found out now."

Cavendish will race for Omega Pharma-QuickStep having recently announced he is leaving Team Sky. He claimed he was denied the chance to win more stages of this year's Tour de France by team tactics.

He added: "I didn't want to put the yellow jersey at risk. But I could not get my head round it when we got to stages, which would not have jeopardised it, and the sports director said, 'We don't want a sprint'.

"I'm a perfectionist. I was one of the most prolific winners of the year, but I was good enough to win 25 and I won 15."