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Cycling's governing body "deeply shocked" over allegations
The International Cycling Union (UCI) rejected accusations made by Floyd Landis in an official statement released Thursday evening. In particular, it rebutted the allegation of a concealed positive doping test.
The UCI refuted "the allegation that a positive doping result by Lance Armstrong during the 2002 Tour of Switzerland was concealed after an agreement was reached between the American rider, his directeur sportif Mr Johan Bruyneel and the former UCI President, Mr. Hein Verbruggen.
"Deeply shocked by the gravity of this statement, which considerably impinges on the honour of all persons who have dedicated themselves to the fight against doping, the UCI wishes to clearly state that it has never changed or concealed a positive test result," read the statement.
Cycling's governing body pointed out that Armstrong did not participate in 2002 Tour of Switzerland, although that statement may have been a result of misinterpretation of Landis' email however, which read:
"He later, while winning the Tour de Swiss, the month before the Tour de France, tested positive for EPO at which point he and Mr Bruyneel flew to the UCI headquarters and made a financial agreement with Mr. Vrubrugen [sic] to keep the positive test hidden."
Armstrong did win the 2001 Tour de Suisse before going on to win that year's edition of the Tour de France. The context of Landis' claim in this case refers to Dr Michele Ferrari's direction to Armstrong not to use EPO at the '01 Tour de Suisse, the story of which was recalled by the seven-time Tour de France winner to Landis in 2002.
The UCI went on to call the accusation by Landis "unfounded" and added that it was "outraged at this new attempt to harm the image of cycling".
Landis had won the 2006 Tour de France when a urine sample showed the rider had an unusually high testosterone to epitestosterone ratio from a test taken on Stage 17. The then Phonak rider was eventually found guilty and disqualified - the first rider to be stripped of the yellow jersey - but not before a drawn out legal battle.
"Our sport has long paid a heavy price for the fraudulent behaviour of individuals such as Floyd Landis, and we cannot accept the principles governing our work being challenged in terms of their ethics and honesty by a person who has not hesitated to breach such principles," read the UCI's statement.
Finally, the UCI promised to "take all necessary measures" to defend the honour of itself and its executives.
This statement by the UCI followed an earlier one by the organization in which it said that it would leave it to the accused individuals to "take the position they see fit with regards to this issue" and reiterated its zero tolerance policy for doping in sport. In that same statement, the UCI had promised to investigate the accusations levelled by Landis.