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Wednesday, July 21, 1999 Published at 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK

Armstrong in drugs mystery

Lance Armstrong is reported to have used a cortisone cream

American cyclist Lance Armstrong, the current leader in the Tour de France ,has reportedly tested positive for a corticoid ointment.

Le Tour de France
According to a source quoted by the French news agency, AFP, the ointment is an authorised medicine, produced from synthetically made hormones. It was allegedly used by Armstrong to treat inflammation in the groin.

Armstrong has made a full recovery from testicular cancer over the past two years.

The governing body of world cycling, the International Cycling Union, says it will make a full statement later on Wednesday.

[ image: Armstrong:
Armstrong: "Fervently anti drugs."
After last year's fiasco over drugs, the spotlight has been trained closely on the Tour de France.

The governing body said that all tests were positive after the first stage of the race on July 4. If the reports about Armstrong prove correct, that is not totally accurate.

Lance Armstrong holds a six minute lead with five stages left but has had to contend with a whispering campaign throughout the Tour.

Last week, his doctor Lawrence Einhorn insisted the US Postal team rider was not having any medical treatment and was only being monitored.

"Like myself, he is a fervent supporter of the struggle against drugs",said Einhorn.

"I can tell you, he is only taking vitamins."

A doctor with the anti-doping commission of the UCI would neither confirm nor deny that traces of corticosteroids had been found in Armstrong's urine.

But he indicated that if it were true, Armstrong was covered by a medical certificate allowing him to take the medicine.

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