ANALYSIS: Doping allegations dogged Armstrong throughout career

Reuters, SALVO, NORTH CAROLINA

Fri, Feb 18, 2011 - Page 19

Despite unparalleled success as a cyclist, Lance Armstrong could never shed allegations he was a drug cheat.

Rumors spread for years that the seven times Tour de France winner who retired on Wednesday used performance-enhancing drugs to fuel his brilliant career.

Armstrong vehemently has denied the allegations yet he finds himself the subject of numerous allegations of doping and a federal investigation.

Former teammate and deposed Tour de France winner Floyd Landis accused Armstrong not only of using performance-enhancing drugs, but teaching others how to avoid being caught.

Landis said he witnessed some of his teammates, including Armstrong, use illegal drugs, including once on a team bus during a race, to boost performance and endurance.

Landis also said Armstrong flew on charter flights that landed at private airports with less stringent customs checks, Sports Illustrated magazine reported.

“Lance had a [travel] bag full of drugs and s***,” Landis was quoted as saying.

The wife of one-time Armstrong team-mate Frankie Andreu said Armstrong also had admitted to using illegal drugs.

In a sworn deposition, Betsy Andreu said Armstrong, when asked by doctors at Indiana University Medical Center whether he had used performance-enhancing drugs, the cyclist replied yes and listed EPO, growth hormone, cortisone, steroids and testosterone, Sports Illustrated reported in a recent article.

Armstrong also has had ties to controversial Italian doctor Michele Ferrari, who has publicly defended the use of EPO, but has denied helping athletes enhance performance through doping.

More recently, a US federal grand jury in Los Angeles has for months been hearing testimony from former teammates and associates into whether Armstrong participated in doping as a member of the US Postal Service team.

Earlier accusations that the American had used EPO during the 1999 Tour de France led to a 2006 investigation supported by the International Cycling Union that cleared Armstrong of doping.

The investigation followed allegations published by the French newspaper L’Equipe that six of his urine samples from the 1999 Tour showed traces of EPO.