Armstrong era 'corrupt' says ex-mechanic

Mike Anderson speaks about former employer

A former mechanic with Lance Armstrong's team believes the seven-time Tour de France champion risks becoming a "symbol for decades of corruption".

"Whatever happens, happens," Mike Anderson said in an interview with New Zealand broadsheet the Sunday Star-Times when asked about the launching of a federal investigation into Armstrong.

"But what he may become is a symbol for decades of corruption in professional cycling."

Anderson is one of several employees or teammates to speak out against Armstrong, who is the subject of a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) probe in the United States following allegations of doping levelled by former teammate Floyd Landis.

Landis was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for doping.

The FDA is probing whether Armstrong and his US Postal team, with whom he won six of his seven yellow jerseys in 1999-2004, misused public funds to cheat their way to success. The US Postal company is government-funded.

Armstrong, who has vehemently denied ever using banned drugs and never tested positive, ended his international cycling career in Adelaide on Sunday when he completed the Tour Down Under stage race.

Anderson has already given evidence to FDA special agent Jeff Novitzky, an investigator who has a feared reputation since leading a successful probe into disgraced athlete Marion Jones.

Key to Anderson's evidence is a claim that he discovered a cardboard box labelled 'Andro' in Armstrong's bathroom cabinet in Spain and that he was involved in an attempt to fool random drug testers who turned up at the cyclist's ranch.

Reports claim 'Andro' could be Androstenedione, a banned steroid. Armstrong denies ever having taken it and, through his lawyers, denies any involvement in any attempt to fool drug testers.

Anderson said he found the box after Armstrong asked him to clear the apartment of all traces of his former wife Kristin before he arrived there with his then partner, singer Sheryl Crowe.

The former mechanic, who moved to New Zealand after an earlier falling-out with Armstrong, said he fears the worst for the Texan in the light of Novitzky's reputation.

"I've spoken to Novitzky on the phone at length last year. The guy is described by people as the Elliott Ness of his area of law enforcement and if you've got him on your tail you're in big trouble," Anderson added.

"He doesn't undertake things he isn't going to win. Those guys have a ridiculously high ratio of convictions - they don't undertake superfluous investigations and I don't think this is going to be a good outcome if you're Lance Armstrong."

Earlier this week 39-year-old Armstrong refused to respond to a Sports Illustrated website report which claimed to offer fresh allegations he had doped, telling AFP: "I don't have anything to say."

Anderson, who says he has no personal vendetta against Armstrong, added: "We hear the same lies over and over again and they become truths.

"One of the comparisons I've made about Armstrong... is the kind of stuff that came out of the mouth of George W Bush about weapons of mass destruction and the war in Iraq.

"It was a bunch of made-up stuff and I think it's pretty funny that the media advisers to George Bush and Lance Armstrong are in the same building in Austin, Texas.

"It's the same group of guys who craft these nonsensical half-truths and the public laps it up because if you're a cancer survivor or a family member of someone who has gone through cancer you're far more apt to latch on to these stories because you need that hope.

"That's the irony really, that's the sadness behind all this in my view."

© AFP 2011

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