Mark Cavendish claims it is "stupid" to regard cycling as "dirty" despite the controversy which continues to surround the sport.
Lance Armstrong's January confession he was a serial doper over the course of his seven Tour de France "wins" has intensified scrutiny regarding cycling's attitude towards dopers.
The lax testing of cyclists was memorably exposed in former Armstrong teammate Todd Hamilton's book The Secret Race last year and several teams are the subject of ongoing conjecture.
Team Sky, who Cavendish was a rider with during Sir Bradley Wiggins' Tour de France triumph last year, have been forced to field a number of probing questions, however Cavendish takes a dim view of the supposed cynicism.
“I think it’s a very, very narrow-minded, and a very stupid way to look at things that cycling’s a dirty sport," he told talkSPORT presenters Hawksbee and Jacobs. "In my mind, it’s a cleaner sport because it gets rid of the cheats. I get really defensive and really passionate about it.
Cavendish celebrates on the podium after finishing second in the third stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico on 8 March
“It’s a very narrow-minded look at things to say, ‘Cycling’s full of cheats’. It doesn’t work like that. There’s cheats in every aspect of sport. There’s cheats in entertainment, journalism and business. If you put the time and effort and money into catching cheats you’ll do it, cycling does that and that’s why cheats are caught.”
When asked if there’s been a difference in drug testing since the Lance Armstrong interview with Oprah, he added: “This is all talking about ten years ago. I’ve not seen an increase in testing since I went professional, which was eight years ago. Cycling is the most tested sport on the planet and for two years – 2008 and 2009 – I was the most tested athlete on the planet.
“That’s the reason why cheats are caught in cycling – because it does more testing. But it’s a lazy way to look at it, just to take that [Lance Armstrong interview] and say ‘I’m not going to watch cycling because it’s dirty’. I can say that straight up because there’s no way I’d be winning bike races if it was a dirty sport.
“I reckon in a few years time it’ll come out in other sports. The reason why they’re talking about what Lance did ten years ago, is because it was swept under the carpet. And now it’s been ousted it doesn’t mean cycling’s dirty now. It means it was then.”