Reaction to L'Equipe's claims

While the French seem, for the most part, to be taking an aggressive stance against Lance Armstrong,

While the French seem, for the most part, to be taking an aggressive stance against Lance Armstrong,

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Five-time Tour runner-up Jan Ullrich, speaking at the Deutschland Tour: "We were all looking forward to a nice finale in Bonn. But then this morning we heard from our team press officer, Luuc Eisenga, that L'Equipe were reporting that Lance allegedly tested positive in 1999. I had already filled up a bowl with muesli and fruit and had sat down at the breakfast table with Matse Kessler, when Luuc came in and broke the news to us. The Gerolsteiner riders were at the table beside us, and they were of course, just as surprised with the report as we were. The news spread like wildfire and it was the big topic of conversation in the peloton during the day. Everybody heard something about it and we discussed it among each other. Right now, I, like everyone else, am not fully informed on the situation so I am not going to make any hasty judgements on what is just speculation. But it is clear that I would be very disappointed if there was truth behind the reports."

Five-time Tour winner Eddy Merckx: "It's sensationalist journalism. Armstrong has always told me that he has never been doped. Given a choice between what a journalist writes and Lance's word, my conviction is to go with Lance. In addition, he also needs to be given the chance to defend himself, but it seems that a counter-analysis is not possible. I still have confidence in him."

Christian Prudhomme, assistant director of the Tour: "Firstly, it's a shock, even though each of Armstrong's victories since 1999 has attracted a certain degree of suspicion. I don't doubt for an instant the seriousness of L'Equipe's investigation, but the facts need to be confirmed and verified. But it does give one reason for hope. Today, those who are cheating will perhaps be saying to themselves: 'In a year, two years, even five, I will be caught out.'"

Five-time Tour winner Miguel Indurain: "It seems bad to me to bring up something that dates back to 1999, because that is all in the past. I don't even know if it is legal to keep samples like this. I don't know the actual regulations on this matter, nor what they were at the time. But everything Armstrong does creates headlines. Now the story will be whether it is true or not."

International Cycling Union president Hein Verbruggen: "We have heard nothing officially. We must wait to see if the information is true. Only then will we be able to decide if there is cause for legal action or if this is just another blow to cycling. This is an affair that has come out of France and that's not down to chance. It's unfortunate. It's not the first time that I have been surprised by an article in L'Equipe."

Chris Carmichael, Armstrong's coach: "There are always people trying to knock Lance down. L'Equipe's attempt is just the latest example. Lance is always the rider who has undertaken the most controls. I have been training Lance for 15 years and he has never tested positive for the simple reason that he has never ever used doping products."

Former Festina rider Richard Virenque, who eventually admitted use of EPO in 1998: "It seems a bit bizarre to me that revelations like these have been made seven years on. It's astonishing that it was necessary to wait for Armstrong to retire for this to come out."

Bouygues Telecom rider Thomas Voeckler: "The facts speak for themselves. It's disappointing because it's all to do with 1999, but it brings into question all of his victories. But, for me, it's just one case among many: this summer we've had Frigo, then Guidi and others before them."

Two-time Tour winner Laurent Fignon: "This is old history. What purpose does it serve? What interests me is prevention among young riders."

Former French pro Jacky Durand: "Why has this all come out now? It all seems a bit strange to me. I have major doubts about the veracity of the accusations."

Italian pro Filippo Simeoni, who is suing Armstrong for slander: "It is the proof that what I was saying is the truth."

Marc Madiot, directeur sportif at Franaise des Jeux: "Better late than never. But it's a pity. If this had come out a month earlier he could perhaps have been prevented from winning a seventh Tour. Everyone knows that I am not a fan of Armstrong, but what interests me now is ensuring that young riders realise that they should not do such stupid things."

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