Cycling: Usada chief refutes assertions that Armstrong was victim of a witch-hunt

SINGAPORE (AFP) - The US anti-doping chief on Wednesday dismissed accusations of a witch-hunt against Lance Armstrong and said he was delighted with reforms aimed at cleaning up cycling.

Travis Tygart, chief executive of the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada), hit back at comments from former International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid.

"It is easy for Pat McQuaid or others to say soundbites like he said," Tygart told reporters at the sidelines of an anti-doping intelligence seminar in Singapore.

But "the evidence is telling. There have been roughly 26 athletes, coaches, team doctors who have been held accountable. Several of them have gotten lifetime bans as well", he added.

Irishman McQuaid, UCI's president from 2006 to 2013, said in a British radio interview last month that he had a "certain sympathy" with the seven-time Tour de France winner.

"He was very much made a scapegoat, there was a witch-hunt after Armstrong," McQuaid told BBC Radio 5 Live, in comments which aired on Jan 27.

"Usada wanted a big name," McQuaid said, adding that the Colorado-based agency was not "really interested in the smaller riders and also they made deals with the smaller riders in order to get the information they needed on the big guys".

Armstrong, 43, was stripped of his Tour titles and given a life ban from cycling by Usada in 2012 for using performance-enhancing drugs.

He made a public confession in a TV interview with US chat show host Oprah Winfrey in 2013. But last month, he also told the BBC he would cheat again if faced with the same circumstances.