LOS ANGELES // The seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong dismisses an offer by an anti-doping authority to test his urine samples from the 1999 race as irrelevant. France's national anti-doping agency (AFLD) yesterday offered Armstrong an analysis of his samples from the 1999 Tour "to prove his good faith", French sports newspaper L'Equipe reported. However, Armstrong, who is coming out of retirement to return to competitive cycling with Team Astana next year, believes any such test would be meaningless.
"In 2005, some research was conducted on urine samples left over from the 1998 and 1999 Tours de France," the 37-year-old American said in a statement. "That research was the subject of an independent investigation and the conclusions of the investigation were that the 1998 and 1999 Tour de France samples have not been maintained properly, have been compromised in many ways and even three years ago could not be tested to provide any meaningful results.
"There is simply nothing that I can agree to that would provide any relevant evidence about 1999." Armstrong, who retired after winning the 2005 Tour de France, announced last month that he was returning to the sport and will bid for an eighth Tour victory next year. A survivor of testicular cancer, Armstrong will be reunited at Astana with Johan Bruyneel, who was the Texan's team director for all his Tour victories with the US Postal and Discovery from 1999-2005.
The Astana team is hiring an anti-doping expert Don Catlin to supervise a transparent biological monitoring of Armstrong that will be made available online throughout his training and racing. Armstrong's career has been dogged by doping suspicions but he has always vehemently denied using performance-enhancing drugs. *Reuters