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By VeloNews Interactive, and wire services
Lance Armstrong expressed his disappointment on Thursday after he once again came under criticism from triple Tour de France winner Greg LeMond.
“Greg LeMond was my idol as I grew up in cycling because he was a great champion and did great things on the bike,” said Armstrong, who is aiming for a record sixth title in the world’s premier cycling race.
“Many of his performances were so incredible, especially his remarkable return to form and win at the ’89 Tour. I’m disappointed and dismayed that for the past four years Greg has continued to question my performances and character.”
LeMond, who suffered a hunting accident in 1987 but came back to win the Tour in 1989, insinuated during an interview with French daily Le Monde that Armstrong had been guilty of doping.
“What I’m saying is that I want to see the truth when I watch the Tour,” LeMond said. “Lance is ready to do anything to protect his secret but I don’t know how he will manage to keep on convincing everybody he is innocent.”
LeMond said cycling had changed drastically since he won the Tour in 1986, 1989 and 1990.
“Drugs are now so powerful that they can change a man physiologically,” he said. “One could even convert a mule into a stallion.”
Asked about Armstrong’s comeback after he recovered from cancer, LeMond answered: “There are no miracles in cycling, only explanations. After I suffered a hunting accident in 1987 it took me two years before I could race again and I never reached the same level.”
And just because Armstrong has never tested positive for banned substances does not necessarily prove he is not using drugs, LeMond added.
“Everybody says that. But neither had David Millar tested positive and he now admits he took EPO,” LeMond told LeMonde daily.
World time-trial champion Millar admitted to a French judge two weeks ago he had used the banned blood-booster erythropoietin (EPO). A three-time stage winner in the Tour, the 27-year-old was the ninth Cofidis team member to be placed under investigation in a police inquiry that began in January after the arrest of a young Polish professional, Marek Rutkiewicz, at Charles de Gaulle airport.
“The problem with Lance is that (if you raise questions about doping) you’re either a liar or you’re out to destroy cycling,” said LeMond who won in 1986, 1989 and 1990. “Lance is ready to do anything to keep his secret but I don’t know how long he can convince everybody of his innocence.”
Last week Armstrong lost an appeal against a ruling denying him the right to insert a denial against accusations of doping published in a book released last month.
The book “L.A. Confidential: The Secrets of Lance Armstrong” by award-winning Sunday Times journalist David Walsh and Pierre Ballester, a cycling specialist formerly with French sports daily L’Equipe, alleges he used banned drugs.
The book focuses on statements attributed to Emma O’Reilly, a soigneur who worked with Armstrong from 1998-2000. O’Reilly claims Armstrong used the banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO).
Armstrong has never tested positive for banned substances and has always strenuously denied taking any such products. – Reuters and Agence France Presse contributed to this report.