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There have not been many words of comfort emanating from Germany since L'Equipe printed its allegations of EPO use by Lance Armstrong in 1999, but German anti-doping expert Professor Klaus Mller has offered a few, questioning the legality of the tests undertaken at the LNDD in Paris.
"I don't doubt that the results of the analyses undertaken by my French colleagues are solid," said Mller, director of the Kreischa anti-doping institute, in the German press, before questioning why B samples taken at the 1999 Tour had been stored for so long, apparently without the permission of the riders involved.
"When it is shown that a dope control is negative it is destroyed, as is the B sample in the months after," Mller explained. He added that the sample could be kept with the agreement of the athlete concerned and as long as the athlete's anonymity was maintained. While it is not yet known whether Armstrong gave his approval for the storage of urine samples from the 1999 Tour de France, his right to anonymity has certainly been breached, although apparently not by the lab holding the samples.
Elsewhere in Germany, reaction to the news about Armstrong varied from calls for Jan Ullrich to take legal action against the American to demands for regulations accommodating retroactive testing. German tabloid Bild led the way on the Armstrong-bashing front, 'awarding' Tour victories to Ullrich (three times), Alex Zuelle, Joseba Beloki, Andreas Kloeden and Ivan Basso, despite the fact that L'Equipe's allegations only deal with the 1999 Tour, where Zuelle - who was tainted by EPO scandal with Festina in 1998 - finished as runner-up.
There was more reasoned thinking in other sections of the German press, with Sueddeutsche Zeitung suggesting a precedent existed in taking action against athletes when positive proof of guilt did not exist. The case of Spanish cross-country skier Johann Muehlegg was cited. He was stripped of three gold medals at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics despite only testing positive on one occasion.
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