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UCI clarifies stance in Armstrong-L’Equipe matter

Editor’s note: A report in the Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph, also posted at VeloNews.com on March 2 (see "UCI: No sanction for Armstrong over EPO charges"), requires clarification regarding the UCI’s handling of doping control forms that were obtained by L’Equipe and published in an August 23 story under the headline "The Armstrong Lie." A UCI official pointed out that while the forms obtained by L’Equipe were copies of UCI doping control forms from the 1999 Tour de France, they were not copies of positive test results. Below is a corrected version of the report: While the UCI

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By VeloNews Interactive

Editor’s note: A report in the Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph, also posted at VeloNews.com on March 2 (see “UCI: No sanction for Armstrong over EPO charges”), requires clarification regarding the UCI’s handling of doping control forms that were obtained by L’Equipe and published in an August 23 story under the headline “The Armstrong Lie.” A UCI official pointed out that while the forms obtained by L’Equipe were copies of UCI doping control forms from the 1999 Tour de France, they were not copies of positive test results. Below is a corrected version of the report:

While the UCI “does not deny the validity” of doping control forms reproduced in a French newspaper last year, there are no laboratory tests that can support proceedings to retroactively sanction Lance Armstrong over allegations that he used EPO during the 1999 Tour de France, says UCI president Pat McQuaid.

Last year, the French newspaper L’Equipe reproduced six copies of 15 doping control forms supplied by Dr. Mario Zorzoli, manager of the UCI’s health services department, who has stepped down after admitting that he provided the documents to reporter Damien Ressiot.

The forms – which are filled out by a rider, doctor and anti-doping inspector at the time a urine sample is taken – document time, place, names and other information, and verify that a number of formalities have been complied with.

Armstrong acknowledged last year that that he had given Ressiot permission to review doping control documents from the ’99 Tour, but only because the reporter had told him that he was planning to do a story on the Tour champion’s therapeutic drug use exemptions.

However, when the story appeared on August 23, it was headlined “The Armstrong Lie,” and alleged that six of Armstrong’s urine samples from the 1999 Tour had tested positive for EPO.

There was no recognized test for the presence of recombinant erythropoietin at the time the samples were originally tested. That test was finalized in 2000 and first employed at the 2001 Tour of Flanders.

After the story broke, some critics called for a retroactive penalty, such as stripping the seven-time Tour winner of the 1999 title. However, McQuaid explained that the laboratory had not followed the protocol for possible disciplinary proceedings; that the laboratory made a public statement that the samples had been tested for research only, under an assurance of confidentiality; and that the results had not been sent to the UCI, but to the World Anti-Doping Agency and the French Ministry of Sports.

“The UCI does not deny the validity of the six forms printed in L’Equipe,” said UCI president Pat McQuaid. However, he added: “The procedure used for these samples was one used for research purposes and didn’t follow the protocol for samples tested for possible disciplinary proceedings. UCI did not receive the usual laboratory test reports that serve as evidence of a positive result.”

This does not mean that the inquiry into how L’Equipe obtained the 2005 test results has ended. Last fall, the UCI appointed Dutch lawyer Emile Vrijman, a former director of the Netherlands’ national anti-doping agency, to conduct “a comprehensive investigation regarding all issues concerning the testing conducted by the French laboratory of urine samples” from the ’99 Tour.