Lance Armstrong hits back at leniency allegations

Says Astana is being tested more, not less than other teams

Lance Armstrong has hit back at allegations from both the French sports minister and the president of France's anti-doping agency that his Astana team are being treated leniently on the Tour de France.

Armstrong, who is bidding to win the Tour for an eighth time, is angry about allegations his team are being treated favourably and insists Astana are being tested more than any other team in the race.

According to reports, anti-doping officials were kept waiting for nearly an hour by Astana in Andorra last week during an early-morning drugs test, when the whole team were controlled, which sparked a wave of criticism.

French Minister for Sport Roselyne Bachelot on Thursday called for a more stringent approach to carrying out the doping controls saying: "There should be no repeat of the incident."

And Pierre Bordry, the president of France's national anti-doping agency (AFLD) said the International Cycling Union (UCI) had been "lenient" in its handling of collecting samples for testing from the team.

But Armstrong insists his team have nothing to hide and claimed last Saturday's control by officials at 6am in Andorra was asking too much.

"I actually think it's ridiculous," said Armstrong. "This is the Tour de France and you can't wake up guys on a day of a mountain stage at 6am.

"There is also a human aspect here. Enough is enough, we have had this team for a long time, we have never had a positive control."

Armstrong insists Bachelot's comments about leniency are unfounded and he would put Astana's test results up against any other team in the race.

"I think her comments are slightly political," said Armstrong. "She knows that when she makes those comments those are political statements. They will get attention and perhaps it will reinforce her commitment to the fight against doping.

"But the facts are the facts, we are controlled more than anyone else in the race. We are never tested positive and I would put our biological passports side-by-side with any other team, every day of the week. So enough is enough."

The seven-time Tour de France winner insists he has nothing to hide from the doping controllers.

"My only version of what happened is that when they knock on my door, I go down and give the blood," said Armstrong. "That is all I know. It's not as if I am looking out my window and see them coming and I stay in my room.

"I think there are people who think that, but that is totally bullshit, that is not the way it works now, or has ever worked."

© AFP 2009

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