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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
Tour de France news for June 6, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones
Armstrong responds to Le Monde article
Three time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong has responded to the article that appeared in Le Monde recently in relation to the "US Postal Investigation". The article revealed that despite a lack of evidence in the two and a half years that the investigation has been running, it has still not yet been closed by prosecutor Francois Franchy, who will more than likely keep it open during the Tour de France.
Armstrong issued a statement that appeared on his website, lancearmstrong.com, that described his position on the matter:
"Once again, this so-called investigation by the French Judicial System baffles me.
It was with great disappointment that I read Saturday's Le Monde article regarding the "US Postal Affair." I am still confused as to why it has taken nearly two years to validate what I said after first learning of this investigation: the investigators will find nothing because there is nothing to find.
I do not condone the use of banned substances and certainly understand how problematic this issue has become in sport. In my case, it's unfortunate that some people, including a few in the French Judicial System, are seemingly unable to acknowledge that intense and calculated training, not drugs, has been the key to my success on a bicycle.
What more can I do? In Saturday's Le Monde article Mr. Francois Franchy said the investigation has found no evidence of wrongdoing by our team and that there is no reason to put me under further examination. Yet, they will not declare this case closed. They will not clear my name. I find this ridiculous.
As this investigation unfolded, I, along with the United States Postal Service Team, willingly aided the process. Despite feeling that it was nothing more than a witch-hunt, we cooperated out of respect for the Tour de France and the people of France. There wasn't anything to hide. We hoped for a quick resolution to the investigation. But this was not the case, as the French Judicial System dragged their feet rather than quickly testing our samples and releasing the facts - no positive tests for any banned substance.
As a gesture of my willingness to cooperate, I personally contacted the French Judge overseeing the investigation. Several months after the matter was made public, I wrote to the judge. I said I would be happy to meet anytime, anywhere if it would help the investigation. To this day my letter remains unanswered.
As months and months went by, it became obvious that this investigation was, simply stated, collecting dust. We rescinded our cooperation. It was obvious that the French Judicial System was sitting on their hands.
The nation of France, the Tour de France and the fans of cycling should not have to endure another Tour with this cloud hanging over it. I have searched for a single credible reason as to why this case should remain open - just one - and I have found none.
As comparison, it usually takes no more than two days to test competitors' samples for banned substances at the Olympic Games. The French Investigators have had nearly two years. Can anyone explain this in a way that makes sense?
As in sport, when you challenge someone and then lose, you should have enough dignity and respect to admit you have lost. For some unknown reason, the French Judicial System refuses to concede.
I appreciate the tremendous support that the people of France have given to me over the years. I consider the Tour de France the greatest athletic event in the world and am honored to be part of it. But enough is enough. I urge the people of France to do what they can to bring about a closure to this investigation. It is in the best interest of everyone - except those who have a malicious bias against my teammates and myself.
I consider this issue dead. It is without merit and I will no longer pay attention to it. My steadfast focus is on the upcoming Tour de France.
Related stories on Cyclingnews
US Postal dossier unlikely to be
closed before Tour de France - The Le Monde article (June 2002)