Seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong has reacted to Jean-Marie Leblanc and Christian Prudhomme's words at the presentation of the 2006 Tour route, during which the former and current Tour directors dismissed Armstrong's wins out of hand.
"On the 24th of July we turned the page on a long, very long chapter in the history of the Tour de France. And one month later, current events made it clear to us that it was just as well that this was so," the pair said in their mission statement, alluding to the accusations brought forward by L'Equipe in August that Armstrong had tested positive for EPO on six separate occasions during the 1999 Tour. When questioned about Armstrong, Le Blanc was more direct: "Without doubt...what we have learned has increased the lassitude toward him," he said to AP. He was not irreproachable in '99. EPO is a doping product. So this tempers and dilutes his performances and his credibility as a champion."
The now retired Armstrong issued a statement via thepaceline.com, succinctly responding to the snub: "Once again Jean-Marie LeBlanc has taken an unsolicited shot at me and continues to ignore the truth. And while he may want to erase the last seven years I have nothing but great memories of participating in the greatest sports event in the world.
"Jean-Marie claims the Tour deserves a better fate, I believe it deserves a better leader."
Armstrong as journo
The American has been busy in a journalistic role this week, hosting Saturday Night Live on NBC last night (with Sheryl Crow as guest) and interviewing former US president Bill Clinton on the Sirius Radio show last Thursday. Armstrong has been doing the weekly radio show since January. He will also host several talk shows broadcast by his sponsor Discovery Channel.