L'Equipe: Armstrong lied!

23rd August 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 23 (AFP) - Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong was proven to have taken an endurance-boosting hormone during his first Tour de France triumph in 1999, the French sporting daily L'Equipe said on Tuesday.

PARIS, Aug 23 (AFP) - Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong was proven to have taken an endurance-boosting hormone during his first Tour de France triumph in 1999, the French sporting daily L'Equipe said on Tuesday.

With a headline splashing 'Armstrong's Lie' on its front page, the newspaper reported that Armstrong's use of the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoeitin) was revealed in tests by a French laboratory of frozen urine samples taken during his first Tour triumph.

The 33-year-old American retired in July after his record seventh Tour title. The Discovery Channel team leader, who recovered from cancer of the testicles, has always denied taking drugs to boost his performance.

But his domination of the race since 1999, 18 months after he had recovered from cancer, has always aroused suspicion in France, which has stringent anti-doping laws.

Armstrong spent last Saturday on a two-hour bicycle ride with US President George W. Bush, a fellow Texan.

Traces of EPO had been found on six different occasions in Armstrong's 1999 urine samples by the national doping testing laboratory of Chatenay-Malabry near Paris, the newspaper reported.

EPO can boost performance by 30 percent.

According to the report, urine tests for EPO were not as advanced in 1999 as they are now, with more modern testing methods becoming common after 2000 at the Sydney Olympics and the 2001 Tour de France.

The urine samples, taken in 1998 and 1999, were tested in 2004 by the Chatenay-Malabry laboratory, which itself fine-tuned the testing system, according to the report.

No indication was given in the story for the delay in revealing the results or about any preservation or safeguarding methods regarding the samples.

The newspaper said 12 samples had revealed EPO use, including six from Armstrong. It did not identify to which cyclists the other six positive urine samples belonged.

"Of course it cannot be regarded as a positive test in the strict regulatory sense," the newspaper said, claiming that there was no question of sanctions as a result of the findings.

But it said the findings could have consequences, with the World Anti-doping Agency studying possible legal channels.

L'Equipe said that the new revelations could also be raised with the US Anti-Doping Agency.

Armstrong tested positive for drugs only once -- during the 1999 Tour de France. However he was cleared when his team, US Postal, produced a medical certificate showing that he used a cream to ease a pain on his saddle containing a banned corticosteroid.

French suspicions were further fuelled in 2001 when it emerged he had been working with notorious Italian sports doctor Michele Ferrari, suspected in Italy of distributing and administering banned products to a number of top athletes.

Armstrong admitted his "periodic collaboration" with Ferrari, who last year was handed a one-year suspended sentence for sports fraud, but he stands firm behind the fact that he has never tested positive for any banned drugs.

He denied taking banned drugs when announcing his retirement following his last victory on the Champs-Elysées in July, saying people who did not believe in his success did not believe "in miracles, in dreams".

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, cycling, Lance Armstrong, Tour de France, doping, L'Equipe, EPO

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