Lance was 'protected' from raid

2012-08-26 19:33

Paris - Lance Armstrong, branded a drug cheat and banned from cycling by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), narrowly escaped a police raid on his hotel during the 2005 Tour de France because he was being "protected in France", a French lawyer has claimed.

US cycling icon and cancer survivor Armstrong is set to be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after he gave up the right to fight serious doping claims by the USADA at an independent hearing.

A day after a report in Le Monde newspaper claimed Armstrong had been forewarned of doping controls - theoretically allowing the American to circumvent potential positive tests - French lawyer Thibault de Montbrial said evidence suggested he had also benefited from top level protection in France.

According to De Montbrial, a hotel at which Armstrong and his team were staying during the race's second rest day in Pau in 2005 was set to be raided by police looking for evidence of elaborate doping substances and methods, only for the operation to be aborted at the last minute.

De Montbrial, a lawyer involved in investigating the fallout from the Festina affair which saw the 1998 Tour de Frace descend into farce, told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper: "I know that during the Tour de France in 2005, on the second rest day at Pau, the team of Lance Armstrong came within an inch of having its hotel searched.

"A French investigation detail came from Paris to carry out a raid. But I have it on good authority that around five in the afternoon, when they were in front of the hotel, the investigators were told to abort. The scheduled operation was called off at the last minute.

"I do not know who gave the order... But I do know the investigators were furious at having to turn on their heels. The evidence (suggests) Lance Armstrong was indeed protected in France," the lawyer asserted.

On Saturday Michel Rieu, the scientific adviser to France's national anti-doping agency the AFLD claimed Armstrong was "warned before all doping controls".

"The inspectors had a lot of trouble carrying out random checks. Armstrong was always tipped off in advance, so he still had twenty minutes to cover his tracks," Rieu told the paper.

"He could thin his blood or replace his urine. He used the EPO (erythropoietin) only in small quantities, so it was no longer there to detect. We were powerless against this."

EPO is a banned hormone which, thanks to its blood-boosting capabilities, has been used by many endurance athletes over the past 20 years.

USADA said Friday Armstrong will forfeit all titles, medals and prizes earned from August 1, 1998, including his Tour titles from 1999-2005 and the Olympic bronze medal he won in Sydney in 2000.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) and the Tour de France organisers have, for the moment, appeared to stall on the issue.

The UCI said it would make no comment until USADA, in accordance with the rules of the World Anti-Doping Code, issues a "reasoned decision explaining the action taken" to all the parties involved including Armstrong, the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Tour de France organisers said they were waiting on the "relevant authorities, USADA and the International Cycling Union (UCI)" to rule on the issue before making any comment.

Armstrong surprised many by announcing after USADA's statement that he would not fight to clear himself of the official charges levied by USADA through independent arbitration.

Sceptics say the 40-year-old American's decision was logical because at a hearing he faced hearing the public testimony of former teammates and associates who have already given evidence about him.

USADA also insists it has scientific evidence pointing to doping by the Texan.

Armstrong, who finishing second in the Power of Four mountain bike race in Colorado on Saturday, insisted afterwards that "I'm more at ease now than I've been in 10 years," and said his cancer foundation, which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to fight the disease, would remain "unaffected by all the noise out there."


  • jak.daladd - 2012-08-26 20:56

    Viva Armstrong Viva, Shame on USADA, Shame on them. They must stick to the USA and stick to Olympic events. Up theirs.

  • alexander721 - 2012-08-26 22:58

    Dear Lance. I heard that there was never a fight or race that you would turn your back on. In fact you would relish the challenge to put right what was wrong. You are the kind of man that would not take no for an answer. Lance, this is a fight that you cannot and should not walk away from. If there were ever a fight or challenge that you needed to end on your terms, it is this one. I am an Armstrong and Livestrong fan. i got back into cycling because i saw a man come back from the grave and not only win one tour but six more. I man asked me today, what does it feel like to wear a bracelet that last week symbolised a worthy cause and now is hollow ans meaningless, my answer, i don't, i expected more from the man that was the ultimate definition of never quit, never give up. Lance i hope you tirn around and fight back, i really do, if not for yourself then for your family, this is one race i would like to see you win

      koos.vandermerwe.338 - 2012-08-27 01:11

      This is s fight he can not win. Lance fan for life!

      derek.francois.3 - 2012-08-27 07:21

      It is just not logical that if you were innocent you would not clear your name. No I fear this man is a cheat and I have lost all respect for him as a sportsman, there has to be a mountain of evidence before the USADA would make a decision like this. It has been rumored for years now that he is a cheat so please just strip him of all titles and have him return all prize money as an example to young sportsman that cheating does not pay......................

  • Robert - 2012-08-27 08:13

    I'm so proud of myself... I now have as many Tour de France titles as Lance Armstrong!

  • curtis.howells.9 - 2012-08-27 08:44

    The millions of Dollars Lance has had to spend in his personal capacity to fight government funded organisations is not worth it for him. This witch hunt started the day the previous TDF doping agency lost its contract. Many of the greats dope in one way or another. It does not mean they train any less or are any less talented. Lance gave us great racing and exciting TDF every time. He helped make cycling what it is today by making the average person watch the sport and want to ride a bike. When Lance was winning the sport was growing at an all time high. The world was watching. His battle with Cancer was a heroic story that touched millions around the world and created worldwide publicity for the sport that few can come close to today. The past is over, the achievements made, the doping tests clean, let the world move on and allow all kids and adults who admired and were inspired by this champion to cotinue to do so. Dont take that away from these millions of followers. Its too late now. I believe Lance has done the right thing. The only people after him are the losers of the sport. Enough is enough. Its time to move on.

      auke.van.der.meulen - 2012-08-27 14:21

      He also spent millions of dollars on doping. These cyclist can afford to pay for state of the art labs to manufacture drugs that can not be detected today. It takes time to catch up with the drug tests. This should be a lesson for young admirers not to take drugs to give you a unfair advantage. He should be stripped!!!

  • martin.valkenburg - 2012-08-27 11:47

    What I find most disturbing is that in the 2005 tour, the first 6 riders ( finishers) all failed their drugs tests, except Armstrong - the winner. How do you actually know who deserves the medals and places on the podium? The sport is a farce. It's not about the best rider but more about the team who can cover up their dishonesty the best.

      bj.pieman - 2012-08-28 21:28

      In Armstong's 7 wins, all the guys who finished 2nd or 3rd were at some point of their careers banned for doping, or at least implicated in a scandal.

  • john.vollmer2 - 2012-08-30 06:30

    I would like to see an internet poll conducted asking viewers to vote on whether or not they believe Lance was competing on a substantially level playing field in the use of drugs by TDF cyclists during his tour victories. He is still my champion at TDF of all time. Go Lance!!!!

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