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British cyclist Bradley Wiggins declares Tour de France 'null and void'

British cyclist Bradley Wiggins declared this year's Tour de France as "null and void" after he was unwittingly caught up in the doping scandals that have tainted the race.

On Wednesday, Wiggins' Confidis teammate, Cristian Moreni, was informed he had tested positive for testosterone following the 16th stage. After finishing the stage in Gourette, Moreni was arrested by police and organizers requested the whole team quit the race.

Overall leader Michael Rasmussen was then expelled Wednesday by his own Rabobank team for giving incorrect information about his whereabouts before the Tour, which he had led since July 15.

Speaking at a news conference Friday at Britain's National Cycling Centre, Wiggins was disillusioned.

"The whole thing has just lost complete credibility as far as I'm concerned," he said. "No-one's got any faith in who's yellow now. The whole thing is null and void as far as I'm concerned this year."

Wiggins, who also faced police questioning, is angry that cheaters are tarnishing the race's reputation. It has even made him question his own future in the sport, but he vowed to focus on next year's Beijing Olympics and return to the Tour in 2009.

"Five people have spoiled it out of nearly 200 guys who started in London, so it is a minority, but unfortunately that minority are the guys who were winning stages and taking the yellow jersey," he said.

Until the start of this year's race earlier this month, Wiggins hadn't seen Moreni since January.

"There are 26 riders in each of the teams throughout Europe, and you can't control what 25 other riders are going to be doing when they are away from you at home," Wiggins said.

Wiggins says cheating riders will have to be banned for life to restore the Tour's tattered reputation.

"I don't blame people for now doubting the credibility of the Tour de France for the next five, six, seven years," Wiggins said. "What do we do? Do we just cancel the Tour de France now? I think from the sport's point of view now, the Tour is essential."

Wiggins blames older riders for tainting the sport, but is hoping that youth will restore cycling's pride.

"Ten years ago it (drug taking) was rife in the sport," Wiggins said. "There's a new generation coming through of younger guys, and unfortunately it's the older guys who were there back in '98 who are still willing to push the boundaries and see how far they can go without being caught."

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