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"I've always thought the Irish are too scared to dope. I was s**t scared"

A cycling special on OTB's Saturday Panel, former champion cyclist Martyn Irvine considered the damage caused to the sport by doping, and its impact within an Irish context. 

In the aftermath of the Tour de France and Sam Bennett's Points classification win, journalist Jeremy Whittle shared his niggling concerns about the competition with OTB Sports. 

"I felt this Tour was edging back a little bit," he explained, "hitting reverse towards the bad old days.

"I don't mean specifically in terms of doping but in terms of the climate being a bit more, 'Don't ask any questions.' This comes after a period where people were very transparent post-Lance Armstrong."

For all intents and purposes, the association between this competition particularly and the disgraced American cyclist remains strong in the public perception of the sport. Of cycling on a wider scale, however, those involved on a day-to-day basis can have an alternative view on things.

"It almost annoys me that cycling in branded as this horrible, dirty sport," former World Champion cyclist Martyn Irvine stated on OTB's Saturday Panel.

"We are a sport that actively looks for [doping] a lot better than others sports. There are so many sports out there doing all sorts of crap and a blind eye is turned to it.

"In a way, I'm glad that cycling tests so much because it is a lot cleaner at the world level. I could be wrong, but that's my personal opinion.

"Cycling looks for doping and tries to keep the sport clean."

On a Saturday Panel dedicated to looking at the current state of cycling in the Irish context, Irvine shared his belief that doping is not an issue for cyclists across the grades in Ireland.

"I don't think that on an Irish level it crosses people's minds," he stated. "That's something for the big egos.

"I've always thought that Irish people are too scared to go down that road. I was shit-scared of doing it and was so straight. It was the stigma surrounding it.

"What would your Mammy think? What would your friends think? I think this goes over all Irish athletes, personally. Maybe I'm wrong."

A former World Champion cyclist, Irvine's professional career came to an end in 2017.

Brian Nugent of Cycling Ireland also joined OTB on the panel and shared his thoughts regarding the furore surrounding Armstrong and what knock-on effects it had had.

"I found the Lance Armstrong thing to be good for the sports afterwards," he explained. "Anti-doping in Ireland and Sport Ireland are fantastic for providing education for cyclists from a young age.

"The structures are getting better, better talent is being found and they're being educated well. That older generation has disappeared now and it is fantastic.

"I sleep well at night knowing that our kids aren't being exposed [to that doping culture]. It is great for us."

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Cycling Cycling Ireland Lance Armstrong Martin Irvine Tour De France

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