By Cyclingnews staff
Lance Armstrong has responded to a proposal by the French Anti-Doping Authority (AFLD) that it re-test urine samples taken from him during the 1999 Tour de France. Designed to "enable the cyclist Lance Armstrong to dispel any unfounded rumours," the testing is a flashback to 2005, when allegations about the American's samples were made by French sports daily, L'Equipe.
On that occasion, the paper reported that "Recent analysis of samples dating from the American's first Tour de France victory demonstrate that Lance Armstrong had already consumed doping products." Armstrong was quick to respond on that occasion, saying, "Yet again, a European newspaper has reported that I have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. [Today's] L'Equipe, a French sports daily, is reporting that my 1999 samples were positive. 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. They state: 'There will therefore be no counter-exam nor regulatory prosecutions, in a strict sense, since defendant's rights cannot be respected. 'I will simply restate what I have said many times: I have never taken performance enhancing drugs."
Armstrong cited the end result three years ago as evidence of why the case should not be revisited now. The seven-time Tour champion made a point of reiterating the reasons for his absolution in the matter and the contrary conduct of then-WADA president, Dick Pound. He began by saying that, "Today, Mr. Pierre Bordry, the new head of the French anti-doping agency, proposed that they retest samples from the 1999 Tour de France. Unfortunately, Mr. Bordry is new to these issues and his proposal is based on a fundamental failure to understand the facts.
"In 2005, some research was conducted on urine samples left over from the 1998 and 1999 Tours de France. That research was the subject of an independent investigation, and the conclusions of the investigation were that the 1998 and 1999 Tour de France samples have not been maintained properly, have been compromised in many ways, and even three years ago could not be tested to provide any meaningful results. There is simply nothing that I can agree to that would provide any relevant evidence about 1999.
Just days after Armstrong had announced his return to professional cycling, Dick Pound weighed into the debate over the merits of the American's comeback. And as expected, it wasn't complimentary. The outspoken Canadian told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that he wasn't convinced it was a clean return, saying, "With his comeback not all doping accusations go away."
Therefore, as expected, Armstrong saved his greatest criticism for the man who had most to say about the seven-time Tour champion during his career - from the viewpoint of possible doping, at least. "In addition, the Independent Investigation concluded that the French laboratory, the French Ministry of Sport, and Dick Pound, the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, all behaved improperly with respect to the 1999 Tour de France samples. The Independent Investigation concluded that both Mr. Pound and the French laboratory engaged in improper conduct that violated a number of regulations and laws. After the report of the Independent Investigator was issued, Mr. Pound's conduct was submitted to the IOC Ethics Commission and the IOC Ethics Commission censured Mr. Pound.
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Cyclingnews' recent coverage of Lance Armstrong's comeback
January 18, 2009 - Armstrong announces start of Catlin's drug testing programme
January 8, 2009 - Armstrong impresses Carmichael prior to Tour Down Under
January 7, 2009 - Armstrong believes Team Astana can dominate Tour
December 10, 2008 - Merckx: Armstrong's return good for cycling and Giro
December 8, 2008 - Armstrong climbs Teide
December 6, 2008 - Rast on life with Armstrong
December 5, 2008 - Armstrong considers Tour of Ireland
December 5, 2008 - Armstrong: Contador is the best
December 4, 2008 - Horner unites with Armstrong despite past differences
December 3, 2008 - Armstrong and Contador ride separate paths towards Tour
December 2, 2008 - Armstrong surfs with Astana
December 2, 2008 - Armstrong plans to race Tour
December 1, 2008 - Armstrong's anti-doping testing program pending
November 23, 2008 - Media out of love with Armstrong?
November 22, 2008 - Andreu caught up in Armstrong fight again
November 19, 2008 - Armstrong concerned about Tour safety
November 17, 2008 - Armstrong to meet with ASO
November 9, 2008 - Armstrong racing in Texas again
November 7, 2008 - Exclusive Armstrong wind tunnel video
November 7, 2008 - Lance Armstrong speaks at Web 2.0 conference
November 6, 2008 - Carmichael dials in Armstrong's comeback training
November 5, 2008 - Armstrong looking for balance
November 5, 2008 - Photos from Armstrong's wind tunnel test
November 3, 2008 - Armstrong doubles up and heads to wind tunnel