Former French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) boss Pierre Bordry has claimed that Lance Armstrong admitted to him that he had asked ex-French president Nicolas Sarkozy "for my head" following the American's return to racing in 2009.
Speaking to French news weekly Le Nouvel Observateur as part of their investigation into an alleged cover-up of Armstrong's doping, Bordry said: "Armstrong told me himself. He boasted to me that he had asked the president for my head."
Bordry said he had contacted the Elysée Palace, the French president's official residence, in order to verify Armstrong's claim. "I asked for the Elysée to deny it, even privately, but I didn't get any response. I was very disappointed."
The former AFLD chief said that he met with Sarkozy at the Elysée Palace in October 2009 in order to tell the French president about his suspicion that Armstrong was doping. According to Bordry, Sarkozy told him: "Even Astérix used to take a magic potion."
Sarkozy, a big cycling fan, became good friends with Armstrong during his presidency. The two men dined together several times at the Elysée. Sarkozy, who referred to the now disgraced former Tour de France champion as his "great friend", expressed admiration for the American on a number of occasions. He described Armstrong as "France's cycling ambassador in the United States"
Bordry, who is now calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the politicians and officials he believes covered up for Armstrong, declared: "In France, the Armstrong affair was subject to omerta as so many people knew what was gong on…"
Now 72, Bordry didn't give any clear reason for his decision to resign from the AFLD in September 2010, but he was unhappy to see the UCI take over responsibility for drug testing at the 2009 Tour, where Armstrong finished third after four years away from the race. "What is surprising is that the UCI does not organise the controls in a regular manner, which can create opportunities [for teams or riders]," Bordry said in October 2009. "I am astonished that there were no positive doping tests at this year's race."
Following Bordry's resignation from the AFLD in September 2010, Armstrong tweeted: "Au Revoir Pierre."
Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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