Armstrong associate appears before grand jury

Stephanie McIlvain gives seven hour testimony

Stephanie McIlvain, one of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong's former close associates, testified before an American grand jury Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

The grand jury wanted to hear from McIlvain because it is looking into systematic doping in professional cycling.

McIlvain spent more than seven hours talking to the grand jury panel where she described previously tape-recorded comments in which she talks negatively about Armstrong as nothing more than "gossip sessions that just weren't true," her lawyer Tom Bienert told the Times.

Bienert, who was not in the room with his client, said "it was an emotional day" for his client but she "testified truthfully."

The grand jury is interested in what she has to say about the events in a hospital room in 1996 when she and others were visiting Armstrong, who was being treated for cancer at the time.

McIlvain, who was Armstrong's link with sunglass maker and sponsor Oakley, worked closely with Armstrong during the years he won the Tour de France.

According to an ex-teammate of Armstrong's and his wife, Armstrong told doctors in that room that he had used performance-enhancing drugs.

In a civil lawsuit and now in front of the grand jury, McIlvain testified that she never heard Armstrong's admission.

However, McIlvain was taped in a 2004 phone call, telling American cyclist Greg LeMond that she heard Armstrong's admission and she was willing to testify to that. LeMond secretly recorded the phone call with McIlvain.

Armstrong has vehemently denied using performance-enhancing drugs.

The grand jury is probing allegations by another decorated American cyclist, and ex-Armstrong teammate, Floyd Landis, that Armstrong and other riders on the US Postal cycling team used performance-enhancing drugs.

© AFP 2010

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