Armstrong cleared in drug inquiry
BBC News, May 31, 2006
investigators have cleared Lance Armstrong of doping
in the 1999 Tour de France.
sports newspaper L'Equipe had claimed that
Armstrong's samples on the 1999 Tour later tested
exonerated him in a 132-page report on Wednesday and
blamed anti-doping authorities for misconduct in
dealing with the American cyclist.
"The report confirms
my innocence," said Armstrong, who has repeatedly
denied using banned substances.
Armstrong said the
case amounted to a "witch-hunt" that was designed to
"I have now retired,
but for the sake of all athletes still competing who
deserve a fair system of drug testing, the time has
come to take action against these kinds of attacks
before they destroy the credibility of WADA and, in
turn, the international anti-doping system."
body, the UCI, said it would make a full statement
after studying the report.
last August that six of his urine samples from 1999,
when he won his first Tour title, came back positive
for the endurance-boosting hormone EPO after they
were retested in 2004.
The UCI then
appointed Dutch lawyer Emile Vrijman last October to
investigate the handling of urine tests by the
French national anti-doping laboratory, known as
But Vrijman, who
headed the Dutch anti-doping agency for 10 years and
later defended athletes accused of doping, said on
Wednesday that his report "exonerates Lance
Armstrong completely with respect to alleged use of
doping in the 1999 Tour de France".
The report added that
the UCI had not damaged Armstrong by releasing
doping control forms to L'Equipe.
But it said Wada and
the LNDD may have "behaved in ways that are
completely inconsistent with the rules and
regulations of international anti-doping control
testing", and their actions may also have been
against the law.
Vrijman said the
laboratory had analysed the samples only as part of
a research programme for the detection of EPO, so
there was no way of confirming the tests.
"If you look at how
the result was obtained it was so different from the
analysis procedure required by Wada... it doesn't
even qualify as a finding," he said.
"It may suffice for
research purposes but as a valid doping result - no
He said samples may
be used in research programmes only on the condition
that all information tracing them to an individual
is removed, but this was not the case.
"Sometimes with doping cases you can say it was a
"These are not
technicalities, these are fundamental issues which
should have been done completely differently."
However, the UCI
(International Cycling Union) and the World
Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) both criticised Vrijman
for making the report public.
Anti-Doping Agency expresses grave concern and
strong disappointment," said an official Wada
"Wada is not in a
position to comment at this time other than to state
that elementary courtesy and professionalism would
have dictated that Wada should have been provided
with a copy of the report before interviews were
given to the media."
The UCI added in a
statement: "Still waiting to receive the definite
version of the said report written by Mr Vrijman,
the UCI underlines its deep displeasure with regards
to the regrettable development of this case."