By Tim Maloney, European Editor
While in Washington, D.C. on a previously planned visit to his sponsor Discovery Channel's headquarters, Lance Armstrong responded Wednesday to comments from Tour De France boss Jean-Marie Leblanc that suggest the seven-time champion "fooled" race officials and the sporting world by doping. "To say that I've fooled the fans is preposterous. I've been doing this a long time. We have not just one year of only 'B' samples; we have seven years of 'A' and 'B' samples. They've all been negative."
Armstrong revealed he spoke to Leblanc earlier on Wednesday, saying, "I actually spoke to him for about 30 minutes and he didn't say any of that stuff to me personally." Reviewing the situation, Armstrong also brought into question the validity of testing urine samples frozen in 1999 and how samples were handled since, saying that officials at the French lab may have violated World Anti-Doping Agency rules by failing to safeguard the anonymity of "B" samples.
"It doesn't surprise me at all that they have samples", said Armstrong. "Clearly they've tested all of my samples since then to the highest degree. But when I gave those samples," (in 1999), "there was not EPO in those samples. I guarantee that."
Armstrong blasted french sports daily L'Equipe, saying that "Obviously, this is great business for (L'Equipe). Unfortunately, I'm caught in the cross-hairs. I think they've been planning (this story) for a while. I think they much would have preferred to have done this at start of the Tour, or the middle, but for some reason, it was delayed. At the end of day, I think that's what it's all about...selling newspapers. And, it sells."
Reviewing his options, Armstrong explained he was considering legal action to find out who leaked the confidential paperwork that linked his 1999 "B" sample to his name. "(Legal action) would cost a million and a half dollars and a year of my life. I have a lot better things to do with the million and a half...a lot better things I can do with my time. Ultimately, I have to ask myself that question."