By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
Chris Carmichael, Lance Armstrong's coach during his Tour de France wins, has defended the seven-time Tour champion against the latest allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs early in his career. Commenting on the claim that Armstrong confessed to using EPO and other substances in a conversation with doctors in 1996, Carmichael told Cyclingnews, "I was placed in the room and I can tell you that that conversation never happened."
"It is ridiculous," he continued. "You have Lance's doctor giving an affidavit that he has no recollection of that conversation occurring. Supposedly my wife was in the room as well. She doesn't remember that at all! She remembers being in Indianapolis supporting Lance. There are only a few people [in the room] that remember that whereas the other people in the room don't."
Carmichael speculated as to the motive behind the new round of attacks from the French media. "I think this is another case of it's a week before the Tour de France. When does this stuff always break loose? Before the Tour de France. L'Equipe and Le Monde obviously want to keep this stuff out there and circulating to go up against Lance. It seems like eventually they would tire of something when there is no way to prove that this is the truth."
When asked about the other major doping story in the world of cycling, Operation Puerto, and how it might affect the sport compared to the Festina scandal of 1998, Carmichael said, "I believe in the sport of cycling. I believe that the sport can sell itself. It's a beautiful sport. Whether it is the Tour de France or Tour of Flanders or the Giro d'Italia -- it has a rich tradition. So I don't think the sport of cycling is going anywhere. I only know of the Spanish situation from what I have read in the press, and it is obviously disturbing. Hopefully they can get this stuff figured out. If people are cheating they need to be held accountable."