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Lance Armstrong Cleared by Independent Investigators
By Staff
Date: 5/31/2006
Lance Armstrong Cleared by Independent Investigators

Lance Armstrong Cleared by Independent  Investigators
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 France."

"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 action whatsoever.''

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 Ben Ross

"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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