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Armstrong Faces Another Doping Claim

Old 04-01-05, 05:44 PM
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Armstrong Faces Another Doping Claim

New York Times April 1, 2005
Armstrong Faces Another Doping Claim
Filed at 3:59 a.m. ET

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- With speculation building that Lance Armstrong will retire, the six-time Tour de France champion finds himself facing yet another doping allegation.

On Thursday, attorneys for Armstrong denied allegations made by a former personal assistant that he found a steroid in Armstrong's Spanish apartment early last year.

``It's a shakedown and it has been from the very beginning,'' Armstrong's attorney Timothy Herman said.

Mike Anderson, who worked for Armstrong for about two years, has been in a legal fight with the cycling great over alleged promises Armstrong made to help him start a bike shop. He made his claim of a banned substance in a brief filed in state district court.

Herman called the allegation false and ``absurd.''

``We are not going to be blackmailed or pay extortion money to hide something that isn't true,'' Herman said.

Armstrong has pledged to ride for a seventh Tour de France title this year, but his comments to Italian media this week fueled speculation it would be his last.

``Four more months and it's over ...,'' he told Gazzetta dello Sport, the Italian newspaper reported Thursday.

``I miss my kids and all the pressure I have on me is taking its toll,'' he said.

Armstrong has scheduled a news conference in the United States on April 18 before the Tour of Georgia. His new two-year contract to race for the Discovery Channel team requires he race just one more Tour de France.

``I have to talk to the press and I have to tell them something important,'' he said after finishing 24th in the Paris-Camembert cycling race this week. He said he would start the Tour de France but added, ``it could be the last.''

Mark Higgins, a spokesman for Capital Sports Entertainment -- which represents Armstrong and runs the Discovery Channel team -- would only say Thursday: ``Lance will make an announcement at the press conference that is to be determined.''

In Texas, Anderson's court filing said he had a key to Armstrong's apartment in Girona, Spain, and was cleaning the bathroom in ``early 2004'' when he found a white box labeled ``like any other prescription drug'' but that did not have a doctor's prescription attached.

Written on the box was the trademark name ``Androstenine, or something very close to this,'' Anderson said.

``He went to the computer, looked it up on the WADA or USADA Web site(s), and confirmed that what he had found was an androgen, a listed banned substance,'' Anderson's court brief states, referring to the World Anti-Doping Agency and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Anderson said he put the box in the medicine cabinet where he found it. He said he did not confront Armstrong because he was worried he would be fired. He said he looked for the box again after Armstrong left Girona to train in the Canary Islands, but didn't find it.

``I had a job to do, that's why I kept my mouth shut,'' Anderson said. ``I tried for a very long time to give him the benefit of the doubt. I waited for months to even tell my wife.''

Anderson said it was the only time he found the alleged substance and that he never saw Armstrong take any steroids or other banned substances.

Anderson also said he and Armstrong had a discussion in 2004 about cyclists who dope and claimed Armstrong told him, ``Everyone does it.''

Armstrong has long maintained that he has is drug-free. The cancer survivor frequently notes he is one of the most drug-tested athletes in the world.

Anderson said he believes Armstrong knew about the discovery of the box because their relationship began to deteriorate almost immediately even though he continued to work until he was fired in November.

Herman countered that the two maintained a good relationship for several months and said he has e-mails to demonstrate that.

``I was surprised at what a good guy Armstrong is and how he took care of this guy,'' Herman said.

Anderson said he was working as a mechanic at a local bike store when he met Armstrong more than four years ago. They became friends, often riding together, and Anderson regularly worked on Armstrong's bikes before becoming his personal assistant in November 2002.

Anderson was paid about $3,000 a month for duties that ranged from building bike trails on Armstrong's Hill Country property to doing his grocery shopping in Spain. Anderson said he was offered a severance package worth $7,000 when he was fired.

Armstrong and his personal service company, Luke David LLC, sued Anderson about a month later, claiming Anderson demanded Armstrong pay him $500,000, give him a signed Tour de France jersey and future endorsements to help him set up his own bike shop.

Anderson countersued, accusing the cyclist of fraud, breach of contract and causing him severe emotional distress. Anderson says an e-mail Armstrong sent to offer him the job promised the help and should be considered a binding contract.

Anderson said Armstrong also demanded he sign a confidentiality agreement that would have held him liable for up to $1 million in damages.

``I had no desire whatsoever to come out with this stuff,'' Anderson said. ``I sought a settlement and then they sued me. If somebody wants to say I want to get money out of it, they're insulting my intelligence.''
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Old 04-01-05, 05:49 PM
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