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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 September 2006, 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK
Armstrong rejects latest claims
Lance Armstrong
Armstrong has repeatedly denied doping allegations
Lance Armstrong has angrily defended his reputation in the wake of yet more doping claims by two former team-mates.

Frankie Andreu and an unnamed cyclist told the New York Times that they took the banned blood-boosting drug EPO before the 1999 Tour de France.

But Armstrong, who has fought off claims he took EPO in the same race, insists the article is a "hatchet job".

He added that it "was a blatant attempt to associate me and implicate me with a former team-mate's admission".

The American added: "The recycled suggestion that former team-mates took EPO with my knowledge or at my request is categorically false and distorted sensationalism."

My cycling victories are untainted

Lance Armstrong

Former US Postal Service skipper Andreu and the other rider, who have never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, also told the New York Times that they never saw Armstrong take any banned substance.

Armstrong's comments were backed by former team manager Johan Bruyneel, who said Andreu's claims were "unfounded".

"I do not understand why he goes on making these unfounded statements," said Bruyneel, who directed Armstrong from 1999 until the American's retirement in 2005.

"An American judge has already shown that Andreu has no credibility. In any case, neither me nor Lance are losing any sleep over this, because his attacks are no longer a surprise."

Andreu, who retired in 2000, said he made his confession because he is worried doping is having a negative effect on the sport.

"To me, this is a story about Frankie Andreu," said Armstrong, a seven-time winner of the Tour de France. "The fact he took drugs has nothing to do with me.

"You have to read way down in the article until Frankie says, 'I never saw Lance do anything'."

I don't know what he's trying to achieve because he cannot achieve anything by saying this

UCI president Pat McQuaid on Frankie Andreu

UCI president Pat McQuaid said he did not understand Andreu's objectives in revealing that he had used EPO.

"If Andreu wishes to say that, that's up to him to say that," said McQuaid.

"I don't know what he's trying to achieve because he cannot achieve anything by saying this."

McQuaid said neither admission should cast doubt on Armstrong's record or his 1999 Tour victory.

"To take dope is an individual decision by an individual rider," said McQuaid.

Armstrong, who retired after his seventh Tour de France win in 2005, has been dogged by doping allegations.

Last year, French newspaper L'Equipe claimed the 35-year-old's samples on the 1999 Tour eventually tested positive.

Armstrong, who has said that he is the victim of a media witch hunt, has vehemently denied the allegations.

Independent Dutch investigators cleared the American in May this year saying that anti-doping authorities were guilty of misconduct in dealing with the case.

"My cycling victories are untainted," added Armstrong.

"I won clean. I didn't take performance enhancing drugs, I didn't ask anyone else to take them and I didn't condone or encourage anyone else to take them.

"I can't prove a negative. All I can say is what I said a million times: I was tested at races, in my house, in hotel rooms, airports - you name it. I had a lot of pressure on me.

"My performances never did anything but get better and stronger amid all the pressure and the improved testing."



SEE ALSO
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Armstrong not facing any action
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26 Aug 05 |  Cycling
Armstrong seals seventh Tour win
24 Jul 05 |  Cycling


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