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Photo ©: Swift

Lance Armstrong's open letter against Dick Pound

To: Those Interested in International Sports:

On August 23, 2005 the French tabloid L'Equipe published an article alleging that I used performance enhancing drugs, based on a research report leaked out of a French laboratory. I knew that was just another attempt by individuals in France to try to discredit me and my accomplishments in France's Tour de France. After the article was published, many in the Olympic movement called for an investigation into the facts alleged in the article. The IOC Athletes Commission and the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations publicly criticized the French laboratory for its conduct and called for disciplinary proceedings against the laboratory, but the President of the World Anti-Doping Agency, Dick Pound, blocked those efforts.

For eight months I cooperated with the independent investigation and waited patiently for the conclusions of the investigation to be issued. While the UCI, the international federation for cycling, and I cooperated completely with the independent investigation, the French laboratory, the French Ministry (the French government agency that owns the laboratory), and the World Anti-Doping Agency ("WADA") claimed to be cooperating but refused to produce any of the documents related to the alleged research.

Despite the efforts by WADA and the French laboratory to conceal the facts, the Independent Investigator was able to prove that everything that occurred was completely improper. The research was fundamentally flawed, the laboratory did not follow proper procedures and violated French and international law in how the research was conducted, and prepared a report that the investigator concluded was evidence of nothing and was prepared to target me and other riders of the 1999 Tour de France. Among the findings of the independent investigator were the fact that urine samples in the research study had been spiked by the lab with performance enhancing drugs, the research was conducted in ways that did not meet minimum standards for testing, that there was substantial risk of contamination of samples, there was no effort to maintain a chain of custody, and there were so many other departures from proper procedures that the research results could not be relied upon for any purpose.

The most shocking revelations of the independent investigator's report were that the representatives of the French laboratory told the investigator that they knew the research testing did not meet any standards for drug testing, that their preparation of the reports that were leaked to the tabloid was completely improper, and they had only prepared the improper reports because they were pressured to do so by WADA. The Director of the French laboratory told the investigator the lab had engaged in what they knew was improper conduct because of fear of retribution from WADA, including possible decertification as a WADA-approved laboratory, if they did not do exactly what WADA was ordering them to do.

The report established that WADA had forced the laboratory to prepare an improper report, and had promised the laboratory that the report would be kept confidential and would not be used against any athlete. However, as soon as the report was leaked to the French tabloid, WADA President Dick Pound went to the media and claimed, contrary to what he knew to be true, that the research was reliable and showed that I had cheated. The investigator concluded that Dick Pound's conduct against me was motivated by a desire to discredit me because I had publicly challenged his improper conduct in the past and that WADA made false statements to the investigator in an effort to conceal its wrongdoing. The report concludes that WADA, the French Ministry, and the French laboratory must be required to produce all documents related to this unfortunate incident, to answer all questions posed by the investigator, and then to stand before a disciplinary tribunal to answer for their transgressions.

Not surprisingly, WADA has attacked the investigator, but has not produced any statement or evidence that anything in the investigator's report is not 100% correct. The French Ministry and the French laboratory have also stood mute since the issuance of the investigator's report, hoping that nothing will be done to implement the investigator's conclusions.

The conduct that occurred in this case, and what I endured, should never have happened and steps must be taken to ensure that it never happens again and that there are meaningful protections of athletes rights. I have been vindicated, but unless something is done other athletes will be victimized in the future. Therefore, on June 9, 2006, I sent the attached letter to IOC President Jacques Rogge and the IOC Executive Committee, requesting that they take the steps necessary to protect athletes and the international Olympic movement. If the rules of the Olympic movement are to have any meaning at all, they must be enforced, not just against athletes, but against sports officials and anti-doping officials when they violate the rules. The facts revealed in the independent investigator's report show a pattern of intentional misconduct by WADA officials designed to attack anyone who challenges them, followed by a cover-up to conceal their wrongdoing. This conduct by Pound is just the latest in a long history of ethical transgressions and violations of athletes' rights by Mr. Pound.

Dick Pound is an IOC member and a high-ranking IOC official. He holds his position with WADA because he was placed in that position by the IOC. WADA receives its authority because the IOC requires all international federations to adopt the WADA Code. WADA receives a substantial portion of its funding from the IOC. IOC President Jacques Rogge called for the independent investigation that revealed Pound's misconduct. It is now time for the IOC to enforce the rules, to bring closure, and to take action against all of those who were responsible for this unfortunate incident. Athletes and fans of sport should not support a system that does not apply the rules in the same manner to high-ranking officials as those rules are applied to athletes and everyone else involved in the Olympic movement.

I had no intention of releasing my letter to the media, but someone released it to the Los Angeles Times. Now that there has been media coverage I concluded that I should release the entire letter so all the people who have stood behind me in this ordeal will have a full understanding of my position. The independent investigator has concluded, correctly, that there should be full disclosure of all documents related to this matter and in that spirit I have decided to release my letter in its entirety.

Dick Pound has already told the media that he does not acknowledge the authority of the IOC in this matter. That is the fundamental problem here. Until the IOC steps up and makes it clear that they are responsible for misconduct by IOC officials and all misconduct by sports officials, no athlete will be able to take seriously the rules and protections of athlete rights in the rules of sport. It is in that spirit that I ask you to read my letter.

Lance Armstrong

See also: Lance Armstrong's letter to the IOC

Courtesy of

June 27, 2006 - Carmichael defends Armstrong, Armstrong answers L'Equipe & LeMond
June 26, 2006 - LeMond: "Armstrong threatened my life"
June 19, 2006 - Armstrong calls for Pound's exit
June 18, 2006 - Lance Armstrong's open letter against Dick Pound
June 4, 2006 - UCI hits back at WADA
June 3, 2006 - WADA slams the Vrijman report
June 2, 2006 - L'Equipe stands by its story, UCI supports Vrijman's findings
June 1, 2006 - UCI, WADA and Armstrong react to Vrijman's report
May 31, 2006 - UCI lawyer asks for Armstrong's name to be cleared
May 14, 2006 - Two more weeks for Armstrong investigation

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)