Ex-USPS soigneur speaks

Ron Jongen, a former soigneur with the US Postal team until 2000, has expressed further allegations...

Ron Jongen, a former soigneur with the US Postal team until 2000, has expressed further allegations concerning the 1999 Tour de France, and possible doping practices within the American squad. Armstrong's masseur told Dutch newspaper Limburgs Dagblad that he was present when team director Johan Bruyneel made comments about the riders' hematocrit levels before the 1999 Tour de France prologue.

At the last team meeting before the race, the 42-year old Dutchman from Kerkrade recalled, "Bruyneel said: they're just under 50 [Jonathan Vaughters noted this too - ed.]. When he saw that I heard what he said, he put his finger on his lips immediately: I wasn't supposed to say anything about it." While Jongen said that he was still on good terms with Armstrong (having e-mail contact as recently as at the 2005 Tour de France), the former masseur also talked about "strange, very strange things that went on in France that summer."

Jongen also recalled that three Spanish doctors visited the team's hotels in a green station wagon. "It was the only car that wasn't branded US Postal," the former soigneur said. "All the team cars parked in front of the hotels, but this car always parked at the rear entrances. The strange thing was that these doctors always slept on another floor," Jongen added, also saying that these doctors followed the team also at the Vuelta, but that they used the main entrance then.

But former USPS team manager and current Discovery Channel team manager Johan Bruyneel denied the soigneur's statements. "Mr. Jongen has a rich imagination," Bruyneel countered. "There was one doctor in our team, no-one else, and I never saw that green station wagon - it's all nonsense. And I never said anything that should stay secret."

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