Armstrong considers legal action
Wednesday, August 24, 2005 11.00pm
Lance Armstrong says he has to decide whether it is worth his time and money responding to L'Equipe'
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Lance Armstrong is considering his options following the publication of allegations that he took the blood-boosting product EPO during the 1999 Tour de France by French newspaper L'Equipe. In a teleconference call on Wednesday, Armstrong also described Tour boss Jean-Marie Leblanc's comments that he had been "misled" by Armstrong as "preposterous".
Several anti-doping experts have questioned how L'Equipe managed to obtain details of tests done on what are claimed to be Armstrong's samples from the 1999 Tour, why these samples had been kept in the first place, and whether it is ethically correct to undertake test on samples apparently without the athletes concerned being aware of the fact. There is also the question of claiming an athlete has tested positive without a control sample existing with which to verify this claim.
Armstrong has himself cast doubts on the testing process that led to L'Equipe's allegations. "Ethically, how can you put a guy's name or prosecute a guy like that when he has no defence? I know two pieces of the [World Anti-Doping Agency] WADA code that are very important. Number one, if an athlete only has one sample left, it is strictly mandated that that sample must always remain anonymous. If any WADA-accredited laboratory wants to use that sample, for experimentation or scientific research, they must have the approval of the athlete. So right there, you have two serious violations of the new WADA code," he said.
Of the possibility of him contesting L'Equipe's allegations, Armstrong said that "a legal action would cost a million and a half dollars and a year of my life. I have got a lot better things to do with a million and a half dollars. and with my time. But that is the question that I must ask myself."
Armstrong, of course, is already involved in a series of legal actions, some of which could be affected by the allegations of EPO use made by L'Equipe.
Responding to Leblanc's comments, Armstrong stated that "to say I have misled people is ridiculous. I have been taking tests for a long time. We're not talking about just one year's B samples; I've got seven years of A and B samples which have all been negative.
"It doesn't surprise at all that they have samples. But when I gave these samples, they did not contain EPO. I guarantee that."
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