LES ROUSSES // A lawyer acting for Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France champion, has attacked a report claiming that a federal investigation into the cyclist is gathering pace. Armstrong is reportedly at the centre of an inquiry in the United States following doping allegations made by Floyd Landis, his former teammate. Landis was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France championship after testing positive, and after years of denials he confessed to doping two months ago in a bid to "clear his conscience".
In doing so, Landis also implicated Armstrong and other teammates at their former team, US Postal, claiming they were involved in systematic doping practices - allegations which have been denied by Armstrong, who has never tested positive. A report in yesterday's online edition of TheWall Street Journal, which has twice carried damning allegations from Landis, said the investigation was gathering pace and that several parties were being brought in to cooperate.
However, the lawyer acting for Armstrong, Timothy Herman, said on Armstrong's personal website, www.lancearmstrong.com, that the report could not be taken seriously. "Garbage in - Garbage out. That's the best way to describe The Wall Street Journal article today based on improper leaks and discredited innuendo about the investigation into Floyd Landis's ever changing stories," said the statement. "The more appropriate investigation and use of taxpayer money would focus on the confessed fraud committed by Landis, an admitted perjurer with an agenda. These kind of leaks, and the stories based on them, are inaccurate, are extraordinarily unfair, and are used for publicity and advancing personal agendas."
The report said that the investigation would focus more on the misdemeanours of team management and those in positions of responsibility than on athletes. The investigation is being led by the special agent Jeff Novitzky, whose inquiry into BALCO led to prison time for the sprinter Marion Jones. * AFP