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The furore over L'Equipe's publication of doping allegations against Lance Armstrong took another turn when World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound said he had no doubts that the information had been leaked to the paper by International Cycling Union president Hein Verbruggen.
Speaking on Thursday at a news conference in Montreal, Pound said he had received a letter from Verbruggen saying he had provided L'Equipe's reporter with forms indicating Armstrong had tested positive for EPO during his first Tour victory.
"Mr Verbruggen told us that he showed all the forms of Mr Armstrong to L'Equipe and that he even gave the journalist a copy of one of the documents," Pound explained. "I don't understand why they're not stepping up to that and saying, 'Well, I guess we do know how the name got public, we made it possible,'" he said.
The UCI has been conducting an investigation into how the information was leaked to L'Equipe earlier this month. Last week the UCI said that WADA was holding up the investigation by retaining documents needed to complete it. Pound has said that WADA is happy to cooperate with the investigation.
Responding to Pound's comments, UCI spokeman Enrico Carpani said Verbruggen was "really astonished" by the remarks, although he admitted that one document had been supplied by the UCI to L'Equipe. "Mr Verbruggen is of the opinion that this declaration by Mr Pound is a demonstration of his bad faith because Mr Pound knows very well that the other five documents do not come from the UCI," Carpani said. "Mr Pound cannot pretend that he did not know that."
Carpani also denied that Verbruggen had been in attendance when L'Equipe's journalist had visited the UCI's offices. "Instead of working seriously on the problem of doping in sport they are again attacking the UCI," Carpani said of WADA.
Asked for his comments on the latest fall-out between Pound and Verbruggen, Armstrong commented: "There have been other tussles between Hein and Pound. Whoever wins the Tour is going to get drawn into it. Hein does the best job he can do and I support him."
But there was also criticism of the investigation from within the UCI. Executive committee member Sylvia Schenk has once again attacked Verbruggen, telling German website Sport1.de that the UCI and its president "are less interested in resolving Armstrong's doping case that in finding a scapegoat". Schenk has spoken out repeatedly in recent weeks against Verbruggen and his favoured candidate in next week's UCI presidential election, Pat McQuaid.
Just to add to the wave of criticism raining down on Verbruggen at the moment, the Spanish cycling federation released a statement on Thursday denying the UCI president's comments that Spanish presidential candidate Gregorio Moreno "is the candidate of the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espa¤a". The Spanish federation affirmed that Moreno "is the candidate proposed by Spanish federation and not by the race organisers".
Adding that Tour of Burgos organiser Moreno is also supported by a variety of other cycling organisations, the statement from the federation also said "Gregorio Moreno has never had any financial link or any link of any kind with the three major tours, having undertaken his activities within cycling with complete independence from teams, organisers, riders or even the UCI".
The election for the presidency of the UCI takes place in Madrid during next week's world championships.
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