Merckx "sickened" for cycling

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Eddy Merckx is not impressed by the state of cycling. (Getty Images)

Belgian cycling great Eddy Merckx said on Tuesday that he was sickened for his sport after Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life.

I'm also angry at the riders for speaking to investigators. Damn it, that they speak up at the time, at least that would be useful. Afterwards is too late. If a rider is concerned about questionable practices, it's his duty to speak up for the good of others.

"I'm sick, exclusively for my sport," 67-year-old Merckx, who has in the past defended the US cyclist, told Brussels daily Le Soir.

"I met Lance many times, he never spoke to me about doping, doctors or other things. He didn't have to report to me either, it was his problem but I fell into the trap. I'm amazed at him, above all after what he went through."

Cancer-survivor Armstrong returned from the illness to win cycling's premier race every year from 1999 through 2005.

After the American was stripped of his titles, Merckx, nick-named "The Cannibal" during his career, becomes the joint record holder again with five Tour de France titles, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1974.

But the Belgian also said he was frustrated it had taken so long for the riders to speak to investigators, even suggesting it was too little too late.

"Yes I'm angry at the riders for speaking to investigators," the Belgian added.

"Damn it, that they speak up at the time, at least that would be useful. Afterwards is too late. If a rider is concerned about questionable practices, it's his duty to speak up for the good of others."

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