Australian Formula One driver Mark Webber has revealed how he distanced himself from Lance Armstrong up to five years before the disgraced cyclist confessed to doping.
In a column for the BBC, Webber has revealed how their friendship disintegrated when he started to doubt Armstrong's constant denials.
The pair had been riding together on several occasions, but Webber's ill-feeling towards Armstrong started when the Texan failed to show for the 2008 Monaco Grand Prix without an apology.
"That, coupled with the persistent rumours about Armstrong being a serial liar and a drug cheat, and long conversations I had had with the respected sports journalist Paul Kimmage (who had been on Armstrong's case for years), made me realise that perhaps he wasn't all I had hoped him to be," Webber wrote.
"I kept asking myself how it was that everyone who beat Armstrong tested positive but he never did. It became a very heavy and difficult subject to discuss with the mutual friends we shared.
"I told them two years ago that he had to come clean but they felt it was something he was unlikely to do. The word "defiant" always seemed to crop up. Armstrong was defiant all the way; he believed he was clean."
Webber said Armstrong's defiance was evident during his tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this month, when he finally admitted to doping in all seven of his Tour de France victories.
Webber believes while Armstrong "admitted he was a doper, but still didn't see it as cheating".
He says the cyclist's defiance and treatment of those whoe doubted him justified a life ban from the sport.
"I think what's staggering to everyone is the amount of people he was prepared to take out on the way up; people who were morally on the right side of the bridge.
"He wasn't worried about the ramifications and the position he may have put these people in; it was all about Planet Lance."
"That's why, Lance, using your words, the "death" penalty isn't too heavy. You rubbed a lot of people's noses in it for so long and treated the rest of us like idiots.
"Whenever I think of Armstrong now, I think of the clean cyclists who competed in the system Armstrong was fuelling week in, week out."
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