AUGUST 28, 2005




New drugs allegations mean Lance Armstrong again faces the question:

Laurent Rebours

What they said...
In Europe

‘For the first time these are no longer rumours or
insinuations, these are proven scientific facts. L’Equipe have shown that I was fooled, we were all fooled’ — Jean-Marie Leblanc, director of the Tour de France, inset the person ‘Lance Armstrong has fallen. He is notno longer be he pretended to be ... The American can considered as a sporting legend’ – Le Monde us ... today the king is naked … ‘Armstrong has betrayedstripped of his titles, at least the the American should be victory in the 1999 Tour’ — Le Figaro


Drugs tests from the past have come back to haunt the American who retired this summer after his seventh Tour de France victory

In America
[the French] don’t mind buying ‘Theywine or storming German us when we’re they have their pillboxes, but never been able to accept their jewel being dominated by an American’ — Mike Lopresti, USA Today

f it was the boldness of the headline — “The Armstrong Lie” — that made the immediate impact, it was the paragraph inset on the front page alongside a photograph of the American that summarised one of the most sensational stories that L’Equipe, the French sports daily, would ever tell. It read: “L’Equipe has received the results of scientific analyses that took place at the national anti-doping laboratory at Châtenay-Malabry, backed up by official documentation. Our investigation shows Lance Armstrong used EPO [the bloodboosting drug] in winning his first Tour de France in 1999, contrary to everything he has said.” A year before, at a Tour de France press conference in Liege, Belgium, Armstrong was asked about accusations made against him in the book LA Confidentiel — Les Secrets De Lance Armstrong, which I co-wrote with Pierre Ballester. His reply was short and to the point. “Extraordinary allegations,” he said, “demand extraordinary proof.” The unqualified accusation of doping by L’Equipe went further than anything printed or broadcast about Armstrong previously. In that sense, it was extraordinary. The newspaper tried to contact Armstrong on the evening before running its story and learnt from his lawyer, Donald Manasse, that he did not want to comment. “For us, these are allegations,” said Manasse. “As we have not examined what is going to be in your newspaper, it is not possible to comment. We will see tomorrow if a response is necessary.” A response was necessary. It first appeared on Armstrong’s website. “I will simply restate what I have said many times: I have never taken performance-enhancing drugs. 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.” The L’Equipe piece did not say the science was faulty but pointed out that because the tests were carried out on B samples of urine originally taken six years before, another test to confirm the veracity of the B sample results would not be possible. When the A sample was originally examined in 1999, there was no test for EPO. One scientific option is open to Armstrong. In at least two of his six samples that contained synthetic EPO, there is enough urine left over (20ml) for him to have it DNAtested to confirm that it is in fact his. So far there has been no indication that he will have this done. Armstrong has been busy defending himself in America. On Wednesday he spoke to journalists on a video link-up from Washington. On Thursday he appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live. King immediately confronted him with a quote from Jean-Marie Leblanc, the race director of the Tour de France. “For the first time,” Leblanc had said, “these are no longer rumours or insinuations, these are proven scientific facts . . . He owes explanations to us, to everyone who followed the Tour. L’Equipe have shown that I was fooled, we were all fooled.” Armstrong said he was shocked by Leblanc’s comments and told how the two men had spoken over the telephone. According to Armstrong, Leblanc just hemmed and hawed, and said he was surprised but didn’t spell out his disappointment. Asked why he should be the target of continual doping allegations, Armstrong looked beyond cycling. “If we consider the landscape between Americans and the French right now, obviously relations are strained. But this has been going on for seven years.” He also offered the view that the French were sore losers. “Couple that [US-French relations] with the fact that French cycling is in one of its biggest lulls it has ever been. I don’t know, I think it’s been 20 or 25 years since they won the Tour de France.” In every interview he has done since the story broke on Tuesday, Armstrong was asked if he would sue L’Equipe: “It’s a possibility . . . You know, lawsuits are two things: they’re very costly and they’re very time-consuming.”


that ‘France cannot accepteventArmstrong has dominatedIt’s their national sporting for the past seven years. tempting to wonder why, since the French are rather experienced at accepting defeat. It must have something to do with Armstrong being an American — and a Texan’ – editorial in the Austin American-Statesman, Armstrong’s home-town newspaper denial has lost its credibility every culprit ‘A firminnocence, when the sprinter when White denies claims Kelli and then confesses, when Rafael Palmeiro [the Baltimore Orioles baseball star] shakes a finger at Congress to underscore his goody-goody stance on a steroid-free body, but his positive test is revealed a few months later’ — Selena Roberts, The New York Times that by ‘It’s too bad guiltyathletes are now consideredtheirthe public to be until proven innocent. But forebears have lied so often in the same situations that they can’t be trusted solely on their word any more. That’s the unfortunate world Armstrong now lives in’ — David Steele, Chicago Tribune

Leading the way
David Walsh revealed in The Sunday Times in July 2001 that Lance Armstrong was working with the disgraced Italian sports doctor Michele Ferrari, who was convicted last year of sporting fraud and given a 12-month suspended jail sentence. The Sunday Times has reported on the scourge of drugs in cycling more comprehensively than any other newspaper. In May 2004 the British cyclist David Millar threatened to sue The Sunday Times and journalist Paul Kimmage. Two months later, Millar admitted to a French judge that he had used the drug EPO Tainted victory? Lance Armstrong celebrates in Paris after winning his first Tour de France in 1999, the race to which the new drugs test results relate

After the publication of LA Confidentiel, Armstrong sued The Sunday Times for an article relating to the book, he sued the French publishers, La Martinière, the authors and L’Express magazine for publishing extracts. The apparent finding of EPO in six of Armstrong’s samples from the 1999 Tour de France occurred quite by chance. It was December last year and Professor Jacques de Ceaurriz, head of the French national laboratory, and his colleague Dr Francoise Lasne had been working to improve the EPO test developed at Châtenay- Malabry in the late 1990s and approved for use at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Their aim last December was to find synthetic EPO

in urine by three distinct methods. They used the 1999 Tour de France samples, which had been kept frozen at the laboratory, for a simple reason: they knew that many cyclists used EPO freely through the 1990s as there was no means of detecting it. From the samples, they found 12 that contained EPO. For the scientists, the discovery of EPO was not important. Their objective was solely to measure the veracity of their refined test. They did not plan to make public the results and even if anybody at the laboratory had wanted to name the riders with EPO in their urine, they could not have done so. The laboratory worked only with anonymous numbers. Somewhere during this process,

L’Equipe journalist Damien Ressiot learnt these tests had been carried out and that there were 12 positives. Through sources at the laboratory, he received the documentation for each positive test with the number relating to each rider who had provided the sample. Ressiot’s task was at once straightforward and formidable. He had to find the documentation that showed both the name of the rider and his number for each sample. Three agencies — the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the French Cycling Federation and the French sports ministry — had all received copies of that documentation. From documents reproduced in L’Equipe, it is clear that Ressiot

obtained the UCI’s copies of these documents. This is ironic because of the speculation in the US about a French conspiracy to bring down the American champion. The UCI is based in Lausanne, Switzerland. Once Ressiot received these documents, he cross-checked them against the laboratory documentation. He then knew he had a sensational story on his hands. The investigation, lasting four months, had reached an end and resulted in L’Equipe devoting four pages to the story on Tuesday and 3Å pages to its follow-up on Wednesday. But questions remain. L’Equipe has not convincingly explained why it took so long to get the story into print: the tests were done in

December, the story appeared eight months later. Had the story been published two months earlier, shortly before the start of the Tour de France, it would have greatly damaged the race. L’Equipe and the Tour are both part of the Amaury group of companies. Neither has the newspaper explained why the riders who produced the other six positives found at Châtenay-Malabry from the 1999 samples have not been named. Sources say the paper does not have those names. This raises the possibility that the leaked documents from the UCI were specifically designed to bring down Armstrong. Previous allegations against Armstrong mostly involved testimony of

L’Equipe’s case against Armstrong
A = interprétation visuelle B = % basique C = Classement mathématique
Positif Négatif Présence d’EPO recobinante Absence d’EPO recobinante inclassable à réanalyser

EPREUVE : Tour de France 1999 SERIE LABO 82/07 FLACON 185 556 186 584 185 557 185 894 186 394 EPO rétentat (UI/L) <125 1470 265 ? <125 RESULTATS A B



The allegations in L’Equipe are based on the analysis of samples provided by Lance Armstrong during the 1999 Tour de France. When riders are tested, their urine is divided into A and B samples which are then sent to a laboratory. The A samples are screened for drugs and then destroyed, with the B samples kept in reserve. The B samples of the 1999 Tour were frozen and kept at -20C by the French national doping laboratory at Châtenay-Malabry. When a test for EPO was developed — none existed in 1999 — they examined the frozen samples, which the laboratory knew by anonymous numbers only. L’Equipe then matched the sample numbers of positive results against the forms filled in by doctors when they tested riders. The numbers from six positive EPO tests (shown in pink) were linked to those on Armstrong’s forms (circled in red)

05/07 06/07

157 371 160 294 160 297 160 300 157 372

<125 828 600 534 210

95,5 99,9 100 97,1 89,7

The French newspaper linked the numbers of six positive tests to those of Armstrong
600 534 210 603 732 100 97,1 89,7 44.3 61,9

06/07 -

160 297 160 300 157 372 185 553 185 558


83/07 -

186 396 186 398 185 479 185 893 186 393

267 723 268 323 <125

19,7 88,7 18,4

103/07 104/07

185 472 185 474 185 475 185 480 185 473

748 <125 906 ? <125




126/07 -

186 397 185 477 185 555

EPO rétentat (UI/L)
? ? 1772



Tuesday’s front page headlined ‘The Armstrong Lie’

former employees, teammates and others involved in the sport of cycling. Although they cannot be easily dismissed, they lacked the documented evidence in L’Equipe’s story. “I’ve dealt with it for seven years,” Armstrong told Larry King. “This is perhaps the worst of it.” Because of his inspirational comeback from cancer and his athletic prowess, he remains an iconic figure to many Americans. His is a story that millions of them want to believe. Many still do, but not all. Following L’Equipe’s story, many American commentators have openly expressed doubt. In the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday, Gwen Knapp compared Armstrong to baseball’s Barry Bonds, the record-setting hitter who has been linked to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (Balco), the California steroid factory. She wrote that Bond’s disgraced trainer, Greg Anderson, who has pleaded guilty to two federal charges in the Balco case, is not much different from Armstrong’s former trainer Dr Michele Ferrari, who has been convicted on doping charges in an Italian court. “Both athletes can say they have never tested positive,” wrote Knapp, “although Bonds can say it more convincingly. Traces of a banned corticosteroid turned up in Armstrong’s 1999 tests. He then produced a medical certificate, saying that he was allowed to use the substance to treat saddle sores . . . “The thing that definitely separates Armstrong and Bonds has nothing to do with science or law. It’s a popularity contest and Armstrong can’t lose. As the cancer survivor who launched 50m yellow bracelets, he has an aura that transcends sports. Bonds, cranky and condescending, may be the most disliked of athletes. As a cyclist, Armstrong never threatened any records held dear by Americans.” Armstrong himself is aware of the damage caused by L’Equipe’s story and how it will affect how he is perceived. “It’s always going to be a case of did he or didn’t he?” he said. “But it has always been a case of did he or didn’t he? I mean, this is not the first time somebody’s come along and said, ‘Ah, he’s doped. Ah, he rode too fast. Ah, his story’s too miraculous — no way, he’s doped’. This has been going on for seven years. And I suspect it will continue.”

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