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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Cycling News Flash for August 23, 2005

Edited by John Stevenson

French resume pursuit of Armstrong

French sports newspaper l'Equipe has alleged that analysis of samples provided at the 1999 Tour de France by Lance Armstrong indicates the use of EPO.

Quoting Armstrong's 1999 and 2001 denials of use of EPO or other doping substances, l'Equipe then says, "Recent analysis of samples dating from the American's first Tour de France victory demonstrate that Lance Armstrong had already consumed doping products."

The tests were performed on samples taken from Armstrong after his victory in the 1999 Tour prologue, and after stages 1, 9, 10, 12 and 14 of that year's race. L'Equipe alleges that retrospective analysis by the Laboratoire national de dépistage du dopage de Châtenay-Malabry (LNDD) reveals traces of synthetic EPO.

Lance Armstrong has been quick to issue a statement refuting the claims. "Yet again, a European newspaper has reported that I have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs," said the seven-time Tour winner. "[Today's] L'Equipe, a French sports daily, is reporting that my 1999 samples were positive. Unfortunately, the witch hunt continues and [the] article is nothing short of tabloid journalism.

"The paper even admits in its own article that the science in question here is faulty and that I have no way to defend myself. They state: 'There will therefore be no counter-exam nor regulatory prosecutions, in a strict sense, since defendant's rights cannot be respected.'

"I will simply restate what I have said many times: I have never taken performance enhancing drugs."

Given that no UCI sanction seems to be possible, the initiative in testing the 1999 samples using a test that has been available since 2001 appears to have been taken by the LNDD and not at UCI or WADA level.

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