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Like a dog refusing to let go its grip on a juicy bone, the French press have struck back at Lance Armstrong with another claim of doping. This one appears in today's edition of Le Monde, which says that the seven-time Tour de France winner allegedly admitted to taking banned doping products before he had cancer.
The allegations stem from evidence reportedly given under oath to a Dallas court on January 17 this year by Betsy Andreu, wife of former US Postal pro Frankie Andreu, who was for many years one of Armstrong's closest colleagues. She is reported to have told the court she was present in October 1996 when Armstrong told a doctor Indiana University Hospital he had previously taken the EPO, testosterone, growth hormones and cortisone.
Betsy Andreu is quoted in Le Monde as telling the court: "The doctor started by asking him banal questions, I can't remember what they were. And then suddenly, boom, have you taken doping products? And he replied , yes. He asked which. And Lance replied: EPO, human growth hormones, cortisone, steroids, testosterone."
According to Le Monde, Frankie Andreu was also asked about the meeting with the doctor during an arbitration hearing on October 25, 2005 between Armstrong and his insurance company SCA Promotions, who were refusing to make a five-million dollar bonus payment to Armstrong, citing rumours of his use of performance-enhancing products. Andreu is reported to have said: "I don't know how the doctor put the question, but his response was that he had taken EPO, testosterone, human growth hormones and cortisone."
However, Le Monde also reveals that a third witness to the meeting with the doctor, Oakley sunglasses representative Stephanie McIlvain, told the court on November 14, 2005 she had never heard Armstrong say that he took doping products. McIlvain was apparently recorded telling three-time Tour winner Greg Lemond during a telephone conversation on September 21, 2004: "If I am called. I am not going to lie. I was in the room, and I heard what was said."
Armstrong has denied any doctor had ever asked him if he had used doping substances, and countered that the Andreus were acting out of dislike for him.
In February this year SCA were ordered by the Dallas tribunal to make the $5m payment to Armstrong as they had been unable to show he had used doping products.
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