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Lance Armstrong has issued a statement condemning the story that appeared in Tuesday's edition of The New York Times revealing that two members of the US Postal team, including Frankie Andreu, had admitted to using the blood-boosting product EPO during 1999. Armstrong branded the article "a blatant attempt to associate me and implicate me with a former teammate's admission that he took banned substances during his career".
The seven-time Tour winner's statement went on to say: "The recycled suggestion that former teammates took EPO with my knowledge or at my request is categorically false and distorted sensationalism. My cycling victories are untainted; I didn't take performance-enhancing drugs, I didn't ask anyone else to take them and I didn't condone or encourage anyone else to take them. I won clean.
"Despite the fact I am the most tested athlete in the history of sport, despite my numerous court victories and undefeated court record, and despite the fact that I raced and won clean and fair, my accomplishments and name attract attention and remain frequent targets of distortion and sensationalism. Today is a prime example.
"The allegations re-run today are not new and I defeated them in court. The implication that drug use was common knowledge on the Postal team is untrue. In a recent arbitration in Dallas, I proved I never used, asked or encouraged anyone to take drugs. I had over 600 team-related colleagues during my cycling career; of those, only two testified for the accusers and none of those involved any proof that I used, or requested others to use, performance-enhancing drugs or that drug use was a part of the team.
"The two teammates mentioned by name in the article today, Frankie Andreu and Stephen Swart, both gave testimony under oath. The article implies that I asked or encouraged Andreu to take drugs. Andreu's sworn testimony, however, shows that is categorically untrue; Andreu testified that a) he had no knowledge that I ever took any performance-enhancing substance; b) had no reason to believe I had ever done so; c) had never been told by any reliable source that I had done so; d) that I never mentioned, much less suggested, adopting a doping regimen; and e) that the only observation of drugs (among the hundreds of races in which Andreu had participated with me as both a team-mate and room-mate on the road) was a single occasion taking caffeine."
After detailing responses to accusations made against him in recent court cases, Armstrong concluded: "With success comes sceptics, detractors, and attacks of guilt by association, particularly in today's climate. I raced and won clean. I know it and have fought and proved it. I want the millions of cancer patients and survivors with whom I battle cancer to know these allegations are still untrue and to be assured that my victories were untainted and that they, too, have reason to hope for a full, healthy and productive future."
Armstrong's former team manager at Discovery Channel, Johan Bruyneel said of Andreu's comments: "I do not understand why he goes on making these unfounded statements." Speaking to Spanish paper Marca, Bruyneel added: "An American judge has already shown that Andreu has no credibility. In any case, neither me nor Lance are losing any sleep over this, because his attacks are no longer a surprise."
A full version of Armstrong's statement can be read at http://www.thepaceline.com/members/lancenewsitem.aspx?cid=2706
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