A planned police search of Lance Armstrong’s Discovery Channel team hotel during the 2005 Tour de France was called off at the last minute, according to a report in the Journal du dimanche newspaper.
The lawyer Thibault de Montbrial, who represented L.A. Confidentiel authors David Walsh and Pierre Ballester on its publication in 2005, said that French investigators were primed to raid the Discovery Channel hotel in Pau in search of evidence of doping when their operation was cancelled at the last minute.
“I know that during the 2005 Tour de France on the second rest day at Pau, the US Postal team [sic] was a hair’s breadth away from a search of its hotel,” Montbrial told Journal du dimanche. “A French investigation team came from Paris to carry out a search. But I know from a very good source that at around 5 o’clock, when they were in front of the hotel, the investigators were given the red light.
“I don’t know who gave this order but I know that the investigators were furious that they had to pull back. On that evidence, Lance Armstrong was well protected in France.”
Armstrong retired from cycling for the first time at the conclusion of that year’s Tour de France, after wearing yellow into Paris for the seventh successive year.
On Thursday, Armstrong announced that he would not be contesting charges of doping and conspiracy levelled against him by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Consequently, Armstrong has been handed a lifetime ban and is set to be stripped of all results obtained from August 1, 1998.