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Page last updated at 19:54 GMT, Friday, 10 April 2009 20:54 UK

Armstrong raises fear of Tour ban

Lance Armstrong
A nine-member AFLD committee will consider sanctions against Armstrong

Seven-times Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong says the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) could prevent him from riding in this year's race.

"There is a very high likelihood they will prohibit me from riding on the Tour," the 37-year-old Texan said.

The AFLD said he could be sanctioned for "not respecting the obligation to stay under direct and permanent observation" of a drugs tester.

It sent a tester to Armstrong's home in the south of France on 17 March.

Armstrong made his feelings clear in a video aired on his website livestrong.com, which campaigns for the fight against cancer.

He said he went to shower while Astana team manager Johan Bruyneel was checking the tester's credentials with the International Cycling Union (UCI).

"He (the tester) was odd, he was alone. He seemed suspicious," said Armstrong, who was asked to provide urine, blood and hair samples on his return from a training ride around Beaulieu-sur-Mer in the French Riviera.

"It's too bad. The Tour is something I love dearly, something I wanted to ride, to race in, to be competitive in," said Armstrong, who also revealed he was expecting to take part in the Giro d'Italia following a fast recovery from a broken collarbone.

Armstrong has had a difficult relationship with Tour organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), who said last year the 37-year-old's return to the race would be "embarrassing".

But the American said his surprise comeback following retirement in 2005 had been important for two reasons.

"I have a passion for cycling still, but more importantly I have a passion for the global fight against cancer.

"I wanted to tell that story in France but if we can't do that we can't do that. It's their call, it's their country, their event, their rules so we have to play by those."

In 2005, the French sports daily L'Equipe, owned by ASO's parent company EPA (Editions Philippe Amaury), claimed samples of Armstrong's urine from the 1999 race showed traces of the banned blood-boosting substance erythropoietin.

But Armstrong who has never tested positive, and was cleared by a Dutch investigator appointed by UCI.

International Cycling Union (UCI) chief Pat McQuaid has also questioned the AFLD, criticising it for leaking the story to the media, and saying it had "not acted very professionally".

606: DEBATE
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French doctors declared Armstrong's hair, urine and blood samples were all drug-free, but the AFLD said the seven-time Tour de France champion "behaved strangely" when a tester asked him to provide samples.

Armstrong claimed he was given permission to shower during a 20-minute period while his manager verified the tester's credentials, a fact confirmed by McQuaid.

"The tester has to have a specific instruction that the athlete must remain under his supervision from the moment he is notified until the test is concluded," he told the BBC.

"From my understanding, this was not the case. Lance Armstrong had every right to take a shower while his manager checked with the UCI that these people had the authority to take these samples.

"During that time his manager rang me and I put him on to our anti-doping manager, who confirmed that the AFLD had the authority to take samples."

AFLD president Pierre Bordry said the body would consider the possibility of sanctions once its nine-member ruling committee had considered the tester's report.



see also
Armstrong accused of test breach
09 Apr 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong tipped to ride in Giro
08 Apr 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong undergoes collarbone op
25 Mar 09 |  Cycling
Injured Armstrong in Giro doubt
23 Mar 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong returns in classic race
16 Mar 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong confirms European races
02 Mar 09 |  Cycling
Nervy Armstrong begins comeback
18 Jan 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong opts to ride 2009 Tour
01 Dec 08 |  Cycling
Armstrong to make shock comeback
10 Sep 08 |  Cycling


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