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Answers from French sports ministry

In the aftermath of the printed allegations that Lance Armstrong used EPO to achieve the first of his seven Tour victories, the director for Sports within the French Ministry for Sports has provided journalists with more information on the case last week. In an interview given between two conferences at the meeting of the European Sports ministries in Liverpool, UK, on Wednesday, September 21, Dominique Laurent said that contrary to what had been previously stated by some officials, an athlete's urine samples, if already tested, could indeed be retested by a laboratory without the consent of the athlete.

"The laboratory is not obliged to ask the riders for their permission beforehand," Laurent said. "It may examine urine samples on its own initiative, because once the samples have already been tested, they're not owned by the rider anymore."

Asked if it was the French ministry for Sport and Youth that commanded the retrospective testing, Laurent replied, "No, it was WADA [the World Anti-Doping Agency - ed.] asked the laboratory for an an investigation in order to improve the test. The ministry finances anti-doping research with about 20 million Euros a year, but it is not in our competence to see how the research is being done."

She also confirmed that another testing could be performed on the samples. "If Lance Armstrong wants a counter-expertise, he can get it," Laurent added. "The is enough urine left for such an investigation: We have communicated this to the UCI in a letter last week. Let Armstrong prove his innocence."

Cyclingnews coverage of the L'Equipe allegations

June 27, 2006 - Carmichael defends Armstrong, Armstrong answers L'Equipe & LeMond
June 26, 2006 - LeMond: "Armstrong threatened my life"
June 19, 2006 - Armstrong calls for Pound's exit
June 18, 2006 - Lance Armstrong's open letter against Dick Pound
June 4, 2006 - UCI hits back at WADA
June 3, 2006 - WADA slams the Vrijman report
June 2, 2006 - L'Equipe stands by its story, UCI supports Vrijman's findings
June 1, 2006 - UCI, WADA and Armstrong react to Vrijman's report
May 31, 2006 - UCI lawyer asks for Armstrong's name to be cleared
May 14, 2006 - Two more weeks for Armstrong investigation

Click here for full coverage of the L'Equipe allegations.

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