An independent commission concluded Monday that disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong would not have won seven straight Tour de France titles without top cycling officials covering up test results showing he was injecting steroids to boost his performance.
The fallen 43-year-old cycling hero now admits that he took banned substances. But while he was winning the grueling annual race through the French Alps and into Paris from 1999 to 2005, he rebuffed allegations that he was cheating.
The Independent Reform Commission said that key officials with the sport's governing body, the International Cycling Union, played roles in hiding Armstrong's doping, including past presidents Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid.
After a year-long investigation, the commission said the cycling union "exempted Lance Armstrong from rules, failed to target test him despite the suspicions and publicly supported him against allegations of doping."
In a statement, Armstrong said, "I am deeply sorry for many things I have done. It is my hope that revealing the truth will lead to a bright, dope-free future for the sport I love." He has been banned for life from the sport by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, but it is seeking to overturn it.
The cycling union's current president, Brian Cookson, said the group during Armstrong's ride to glory was "trying to control and limit rather than eliminate [doping] completely and at the time they always put the image and the business of the sport before integrity, transparency and honesty."
He said the sport still has "an endemic problem of lower-level doping."
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.