Cycling: Dope report clears Armstrong

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The Independent Online

A 132-page independent report has cleared the seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong of doping in accusations made last year by the French newspaper L'Equipe.

The report is also damning in its assessment of the conduct of the president of the World Anti-Doping Organisation, Dick Pound, during the affair.

Armstrong was accused by L'Equipe of using the banned drug EPO during the 1999 Tour, the first of seven the American won, after the newspaper gained access to doping control forms. However, the report by the Dutch lawyer Emile Vrijman states that "the identity and integrity of the samples" - allegedly belonging to Armstrong and tested by a French laboratory last year for EPO with procedures first used in 2001 - "are not guaranteed".

Vrijman says his investigation "completely exonerates Lance Armstrong with respect to alleged use of doping".

Wada's president and Jacques De Ceaurriz, who is the head of the French laboratory which carried out the tests, are accused by Vrijman of making statements which "violated... laws concerning athlete confidentiality". Wada is also said by Vrijman to have "broken applicable rules, including the Wada code".

Pound said "there was no interest [in the report] in determining whether the samples Armstrong provided were positive or not."

Armstrong said the findings "confirm what I've been saying since this witch hunt began. Dick Pound, Wada, the French laboratory, the French minister of sport, L'Equipe and Tour de France organisers have been out to discredit me without any basis. The time has come to take action against these kinds of attacks before they destroy the credibility of Wada."

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