Seven-time Tour winner "immune to any controversy"
Lance Armstrong has criticised a report by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera which published details of the international investigation into the activities of Dr. Michele Ferrari and his many clients, including the seven-time Tour de France winner.
Speaking at the XTERRA USA Championship — an off-road triathlon, where he finished fifth, Armstrong denied any continued business links with the Ferrari family.
"I've always maintained those guys are my friends and that's not going to change," he said.
"To be honest, I'm totally immune to any controversy... I've been listening to this stuff for 15 years."
While Ferrari was handed a lifetime ban by the Italian Cycling Federation following accusations that he was a preparatore for many top cyclists, including Armstrong, he was cleared of any criminal charges in 2006. However, any rider shown to have worked with Ferrari faces a sporting ban. Armstrong ended his professional relationship in 2004.
In response to this week's report in the Italian broadsheet, Ferrari issued a statement on Thursday denying the allegations and said "my son Stefano is administering a website which offers personalized training consultancy to various cyclists and triathletes; Lance Armstrong is among them."
Armstrong denied this latest link at the triathlon event and argued that the report in Corriere della Sera was timed to interfere with his appearance there and at the United Nations where he represented his LiveStrong charity.
"It's no accident they leaked that this week," he said. "It's just the clowns on the other side just capitalizing on all you guys standing here. And you guys fall right into it."
Armstrong has never failed a drug test although he is currently being investigated by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles that has been meeting for more than a year to examine illegal drug use in professional cycling.
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