Melbourne: Martina Navratilova says only a “big ego” could have driven Lance Armstrong to lie about doping for so many years, and thinks he should never be allowed to compete in any sport again.
The 18-time Grand Slam singles champion said she didn’t watch Armstrong’s US TV interview with Oprah Winfrey, during which he admitted to doping during his seven Tour de France wins, because she’d already made up her mind about him.
“There is no justification for what he did,” Navratilova said. “Lying about it with such conviction for so many years, suing people and winning and just denying it so many times, I mean, it takes some serious ego to be able to do that. Clearly, he has a big ego.
“He should never be able to compete anywhere at any level. If it was just a one-time deal, OK, but every year he raced, he was cheating. It’s unimaginable.”
Navratilova is in Melbourne to play in the Australian Open legends doubles event. She’s confident tennis is a clean sport, but thinks anti-doping authorities should be giving players blood tests on a more consistent basis.
When told that men’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic said he hadn’t received a blood test in six months, Navratilova said: “He shouldn’t be slipping through the cracks that much.”
“Some people may be tested once a month and then some get tested maybe once or twice a year,” she said. Anti-doping authorities “need to figure that out a little bit better, but overall I think tennis is in pretty good hands.”
Navratilova is teaming with that other famous Martina, five-time major winner Martina Hingis, in the legends doubles event.
The Martinas beat Lindsay Davenport and Cara Black in a single set 7-6 (4) Monday.
Meanwhile, the panel investigating links between cycling’s governing body and Armstrong has postponed its first hearing because of snow in London.
The International Cycling Union’s independent commission will now hold its procedural hearing on Friday instead of Tuesday.
The three-person panel will consider whether to introduce an amnesty or truth and reconciliation commission to persuade riders to come forward with doping information without fear of retribution.
The panel is investigating accusations that UCI leaders covered up suspicious doping tests given by Armstrong during his 1999-2005 run of Tour de France victories and unethically accepted donations from him totaling $125,000.
The panel is composed of retired British judge Philip Otton, Paralympic great Tanni-Grey Thompson and Australian lawyer Malcolm Holmes.