Two former Armstrong teammates admit 1999 doping – report

Two former Armstrong teammates admit 1999 doping – report

NEW YORK – Two of Lance Armstrong’s teammates in the 1999 Tour de France admitted taking the banned performance-enhancing substance EPO in preparing for that race, the New York Times reported yesterday.

In a story posted on its website, the newspaper said Frankie Andreu, a retired captain of the US Postal Service team, and another rider who did not want his name disclosed both admitted wrongdoing in interviews with the Times. “There’s always going to be the guy who denies and denies that he’s ever used something,” Andreu said.”Nobody really knows what that guy is really doing when he goes home and closes the door.”The admissions darken Armstrong’s first Tour de France triumph and come in the wake of Armstrong fighting off claims that an updated test of a 1999 sample by a French laboratory showed the US cycling star was positive.Armstrong, who turns 35 next week, began a run of seven Tour triumphs in a row in 1999 before retiring last year.American Floyd Landis won this year’s Tour in July but tested positive and is fighting to clear his name.Armstrong and Landis have denied taking any performance-enhancing substances.Andreu, 39, said he took EPO for only a few races and said his admission of being a dope cheat is because he thinks doping is hurting cycling, saying that doping and denial by riders could turn off fans and sponsors permanently.”There are two levels of guys – you got the guys that cheat and guys that are just trying to survive,” Andreu told the Times.Both Andreu and his unidentified teammate told the newspaper they never saw Armstrong take any banned substance.Neither man ever failed a test for performance-enhancing drugs, they told the Times, casting doubt upon whether any negative test from 1999 could be considered proof that any rider was not a dope cheat.Both riders who spoke to the Times said they felt they had to take EPO simply to make the team in 1999.Andreu would not say exactly when he took EPO while the other rider said he did not use EPO during the actual Tour de France.Armstrong made an amazing recovery from life-threatening cancer to become the greatest champion in Tour history and a symbol of hope for those with cancer.Andreu said he was introduced to drugs in 1995 when he and Armstrong were teammates for Motorola, saying some riders felt they could no longer compete with Europeans whose rapid improvement was rumoured to be aided by EPO.Andreu’s wife Betsy told the Times she found a thermos containing EPO in her refrigerator before the 1999 Tour and became angry but bowed to her husband’s plea to take EPO to help finish the race and then never use it again.Betsy Andreu told the Times she blames Armstrong for pressuring teammates to use drugs, saying her husband “didn’t use EPO for himself, because as a domestique, he was never going to win that race.”It was for Lance.”Armstrong, nearing the 10th anniversary of his cancer diagnosis, appeared on television coverage before the Texas-Ohio State college US football showdown last weekend and is preparing to compete in the New York Marathon in November.One of Armstrong’s former teammates, 2004 Olympic champion Tyler Hamilton, is set to complete a two-year ban for blood doping this month.Another former key man for Armstrong, Spaniard Roberto Heras, is serving a two-year EPO ban.Nampa-AFP”There’s always going to be the guy who denies and denies that he’s ever used something,” Andreu said.”Nobody really knows what that guy is really doing when he goes home and closes the door.”The admissions darken Armstrong’s first Tour de France triumph and come in the wake of Armstrong fighting off claims that an updated test of a 1999 sample by a French laboratory showed the US cycling star was positive.Armstrong, who turns 35 next week, began a run of seven Tour triumphs in a row in 1999 before retiring last year.American Floyd Landis won this year’s Tour in July but tested positive and is fighting to clear his name.Armstrong and Landis have denied taking any performance-enhancing substances.Andreu, 39, said he took EPO for only a few races and said his admission of being a dope cheat is because he thinks doping is hurting cycling, saying that doping and denial by riders could turn off fans and sponsors permanently.”There are two levels of guys – you got the guys that cheat and guys that are just trying to survive,” Andreu told the Times.Both Andreu and his unidentified teammate told the newspaper they never saw Armstrong take any banned substance.Neither man ever failed a test for performance-enhancing drugs, they told the Times, casting doubt upon whether any negative test from 1999 could be considered proof that any rider was not a dope cheat.Both riders who spoke to the Times said they felt they had to take EPO simply to make the team in 1999.Andreu would not say exactly when he took EPO while the other rider said he did not use EPO during the actual Tour de France.Armstrong made an amazing recovery from life-threatening cancer to become the greatest champion in Tour history and a symbol of hope for those with cancer.Andreu said he was introduced to drugs in 1995 when he and Armstrong were teammates for Motorola, saying some riders felt they could no longer compete with Europeans whose rapid improvement was rumoured to be aided by EPO.Andreu’s wife Betsy told the Times she found a thermos containing EPO in her refrigerator before the 1999 Tour and became angry but bowed to her husband’s plea to take EPO to help finish the race and then never use it again.Betsy Andreu told the Times she blames Armstrong for pressuring teammates to use drugs, saying her husband “didn’t use EPO for himself, because as a domestique, he was never going to win that race.”It was for Lance.”Armstrong, nearing the 10th anniversary of his cancer diagnosis, appeared on television coverage before the Texas-Ohio State college US football showdown last weekend and is preparing to compete in the New York Marathon in November.One of Armstrong’s former teammates, 2004 Olympic champion Tyler Hamilton, is set to complete a two-year ban for blood doping this month.Another former key man for Armstrong, Spaniard Roberto Heras, is serving a two-year EPO ban.Nampa-AFP

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