By Agence France Press
A soon-to-be-published book entitled “L.A. Confidential: The Secrets of Lance Armstrong” alleges that the five-time Tour de France winner has been involved in doping since recovering from cancer in 1998.
Charges made in the book, co-written by award-winning Sunday Times sports reporter David Walsh and Pierre Ballester, a cycling specialist formerly with L’Equipe, appear in this week’s L’Express, a weekly magazine. The book itself is slated for release on Tuesday.
Their book recounts the allegations of a former U.S. Postal physiotherapist that Armstrong used the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin). Irishwoman Emma O’Reilly, who worked with Armstrong for three and a half years beginning in 1998, alleges that he asked her to dispose of bags containing syringes after the 1998 Tour of Holland, only months after the Festina scandal at the Tour de France almost brought the race to its knees.
O’Reilly also charges that in May 1999, while Armstrong was at a training camp in the Pyrénées, she was asked to drive to Spain to collect drugs and bring them back into France, which she later handed to Armstrong in a parking lot.While O’Reilly left the team at the end of the 2000 season, she did so under good terms. FormerPostal general manager Mark Gorski once referred to the now-33-year-old soigneur as “the heart and soul of the team.”
“She’s so professional and has a wonderful influence on the other staffmembers and the riders,” Gorski told Sam Abt of the InternationalHerald Tribune. Gorski said. “She brings a woman’s sensitivityto guys’ personalities, their differences in personality, all kinds ofthings that a male soigneur just can’t bring.”
The 33-year-old Armstrong has always strenuously denied using any performance-enhancing substances. While traces of the corticosteroid triamcinolone, a banned substance found in some medicines and creams, were found in his urine during the 1999 Tour, the UCI did not sanction Armstrong in the matter, saying that he had used the cream Cemalyt to treat a skin allergy, and that it had been given a copy of the prescription for the cream.
“The UCI declares with the utmost firmness that this was an authorized usage, and does not constitute a case of doping,” the governing body said in a statement.
However, O’Reilly’s claims are supported by New Zealander Stephen Swart, a former teammate of Armstrong’s on Motorola during 1994-95. Swart, who retired from professional cycling nine years ago, said he felt pressured to begin doping.
“Motorola was throwing all this money at the team and we had to come up trumps,” he is quoted as saying in the book, to be published this week.
This is not the first time that Walsh has shone a less-than-flattering light upon Armstrong. Days before the start of the 2001 Tour in 2001 Walsh wrote that Armstrong had had close links with Dr. Michele Ferrari, formerly physician to the Gewiss-Ballan team, which he was forced to leave after he said that the banned blood booster EPO, if used properly, was no more harmful than orange juice.
Armstrong countered that he had only consulted Ferrari on advanced training methods with a view to attempting to break the world hour record.
As regards the new book, meanwhile, Armstrong has sent Walsh a letter threatening a costly legal battle if the book contains allegations that he has resorted to doping.
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