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You needed drugs to win Tour: Lance

CYCLIST: Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong has claimed it was impossible to win the Tour de France without using drugs during the time he doped his way to seven victories between 1999 and 2005.

On the eve of the 100th running of the world's biggest cycling race, the American told French newspaper Le Monde that doping was so widespread at the time that only those who took drugs could win.

"The Tour de France? No. Impossible to win without doping," Armstrong (pictured) said.

"My name was taken out of the palmares (list of achievements) but the Tour was held between 1999 and 2005 wasn't it? There must be a winner then. Who is he? Nobody came forward to claim my jerseys."

The 41-year-old also hit out at UCI president Pat McQuaid claiming the Irishman – currently facing a re-election challenge from British Cycling's Brian Cookson to remain as head of the sport's world governing body – must go if cycling is to clean up.

"(UCI president) Pat McQuaid can say and think what he wants. Things just cannot change as long as McQuaid stays in power," Armstrong said.

McQuaid later released a statement of his own, which read: "It is very sad that Lance Armstrong has decided to make this statement on the eve of the Tour de France.

"However, I can tell him categorically that he is wrong. His comments do absolutely nothing to help cycling. The culture within cycling has changed since the Armstrong era and it is now possible to race and win clean.

"Riders and teams' owners have been forthright in saying that it is possible to win clean – and I agree with them."

HORNER HITS OUT AT PENALTY POINT PLAN

F1: Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has expressed concerns with regard to the new penalty points system to be applied to Formula One.

Following the latest meeting of the World Motor Sport Council yesterday, a system similar to that applied to Ireland's road-car users will run from next year.

A statement from the FIA confirmed: "A penalty point system for drivers will be introduced.

"If a driver accumulates more than 12 points he will be banned from the next race. Points will stay on a driver's licence for 12 months.

"The amount of points a driver may be given for infringements will vary from one to three depending upon the severity of the offence."

Horner, however, can see the flaw with the new sporting regulation as he said: "I'm not a massive fan of the points system. I don't like the thought of points carrying over from one season into the next, and that lingering over a driver."

At Silverstone yesterday, Nico Rosberg (pictured) took advantage of a dry afternoon practice session to seemingly leave Mercedes as the team to beat in qualifying ahead of the British Grand Prix.

On a fast, flowing track such as Silverstone, the expectation is for a front-row lock-out from Mercedes, for whom Rosberg led the way in the second 90-minute run after a wet first practice.

The German, who celebrated his 28th birthday yesterday, posted a time of one minute 32.248secs, finishing almost a third of a second faster than Red Bull's Mark Webber, winner twice here in the last three years.


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