Lance Armstrong Cleared by Independent
Independent Dutch investigators led by Dutch lawyer Emile Vrijman cleared Lance
Armstrong of doping in the 1999 Tour de France on Wednesday, and accused
anti-doping authorities for misconduct in the affair.
Dutch lawyer Emile Vrijman was appointed last October by the UCI to
investigate the handling of urine tests from the 1999 Tour by the French
national anti-doping laboratory, known by its French acronym LNDD. Vrijman, who
headed the Dutch anti-doping agency for 10 years and later defended athletes
accused of doping, worked on the report with Adriaan van der Veen, a scientist
with the Dutch Metrology Laboratory.
The 132 page report states, "exonerates Lance
Armstrong completely with respect to alleged use of doping in the 1999 Tour de
"There is no basis for disciplinary action against
any rider,'' Dutch lawyer Emile Vrijman
said in his 132-page report today. The International Cycling Union,
"is recommended to refrain from taking any disciplinary
The report also questioned the integrity of WADA and the French laboratory...
as they may have, '...behaved in ways that are
completely inconsistent with the rules and regulations of international
anti-doping control testing,' and may also acted illegally.
Vrijman also recommends that a tribunal be convened to discuss the possible
legal and ethical violations by WADA in its treatment of the rider and
"appropriate sanctions to remedy the violations."
"WADA violated applicable rules on athlete
confidentiality by commenting publicly on the alleged positive findings,
especially in relation with a particular rider, Lance Armstrong."
Vrijman said the laboratory had analyzed
the samples only as part of a research program for the detection of EPO, so
there was no way of confirming the tests. "If you look
at how the result was obtained it was so different from the analysis procedure
required by Wada... it doesn't even qualify as a finding," he said.
"It may suffice for research purposes but as a valid
doping result - no way."
He said samples may be used in research programs only on the condition that
all information tracing them to an individual is removed, but this was not the
case. Vrijman went on to say, "Sometimes with
doping cases you can say it was a technicality. These are not technicalities,
these are fundamental issues which should have been done completely
differently." Oddly enough, the report stated that the UCI had
not damaged Armstrong by releasing doping control forms to L'Equipe.
The inquiry dates back to the articles in the French daily sports journal
L'Equipe last August that six of Armstrong's urine samples from 1999, tested
positive for EPO when tested later in as part of a test program.
Armstrong has denied ever using banned substances after the reports came out
in L'Equipe and the record shows that he is the most tested athlete in sports in
the last decade with no positive test results through his career.
"For the people who don't believe in cycling, the
cynics and skeptics, I'm sorry for you, I'm sorry you can't dream big and I'm
sorry you don't believe in miracles,'' he said from the podium in
Paris after winning his seventh tour de France.
Lance Armstrong 2005 le Tour de France Photo copyright
"The report confirms my innocence,"
Armstrong went on to comment,
"I have now retired, but for the sake of all athletes
still competing who deserve a fair system of drug testing, the time has come to
take action against these kinds of attacks before they destroy the credibility
of WADA and, in turn, the international anti-doping system."
The UCI criticized Vrijman for releasing his report before first informing it of
the findings. "The UCI firmly deplores the behavior of
Mr. Vrijman, who has spoken prematurely, offending the agreements that foresaw
that all parties implied would be informed before any public comment on the
report content would be done,'' also commenting it would make a full
statement after studying the report.
"The World Anti-Doping Agency expresses grave concern
and strong disappointment," said an official Wada statement.
"Wada is not in a position to comment at this time other
than to state that elementary courtesy and professionalism would have dictated
that Wada should have been provided with a copy of the report before interviews
were given to the media."
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