Report: UCI protected Armstrong

Armstrong, who beat testicular cancer to win seven consecutive Tour de France crowns, was banned from cycling for life in 2012 and stripped of all of his titles. The American is currently fighting to have his ban overturned.

The Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) was set up to investigate claims that donations made by Armstrong to the UCI were in fact bribes, but in a report released on the Monday the commission said that there was no evidence to support such theories.

However, the Dick Marty-led commission has asserted in their report that the UCI allowed doping to flourish and was particularly critical of former UCI presidents Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid who were labelled as "weak".

"Numerous examples have been identified showing that UCI leadership 'defended' or 'protected' Lance Armstrong and took decisions because they were favourable to him," the report read.

"This was in circumstances where there was strong reason to suspect him of doping…

"…UCI exempted Lance Armstrong from rules, failed to target test him despite the suspicions, and publicly supported him against allegations of doping, even as late as 2012."

While the report asserted that Armstrong's life-ban should still stand, the 43-year-old released a statement praising the committee's investigation into the UCI.

"I am grateful to CIRC for seeking the truth and allowing me to assist in that search. I am deeply sorry for many things I have done," the statement read.

"It is my hope that revealing the truth will lead to a bright, dope-free future for the sport I love, and will allow all young riders emerging from small towns throughout the world in years to come to chase their dreams without having to face the lose-lose choices that so many of my friends, teammates and opponents faced."