Swiss lab will aid Armstrong probe: Report

Washington: Swiss drug-testing laboratory director Martial Saugy has agreed to cooperate with a US federal investigation into Lance Armstrong and doping in cycling, the Washington Post reported Friday.

The newspaper said Saugy met with US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) chief executive Travis T. Tygart last July in Moscow, according to a letter sent to Saugy from USADA on April 14.

Saugy agreed to provide information by May 2 on all "suspicious" results from testing for the banned endurance-boosting drug EPO (erythropoietin) during the 2001 Tour of Switzerland as well as details of discussions with Armstrong or his former team manager Johan Bruyneel related to EPO testing, according to the letter.

The fact the letter exists was revealed last Sunday in a report on Armstrong on the CBS television show "60 Minutes" in which former Armstrong teammate Tyler Hamilton admitted doping himself and said that Armstrong had told him he tested positive at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland but that it was never made public.

"People took care of it," Hamilton told CBS. "I don`t know all the exact details but Lance`s people and people from the other side, people I believe from the governing body of the sport, figured out a way for it to go away. I was told this (by) Lance."

US cycling icon Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France winner, has steadfastedly denied any wrongdoing and doping in public statements, citing in most cases an unblemished record of doping tests after giving more than 500 samples.

Armstrong attorney Tim Herman, in a statement to the Post, said that "neither Armstrong or Bruyneel have any recollection of meeting (Saugy) for any purpose at any time".

"Armstrong was never informed by anyone in 2001 or any other time about either a positive or `suspicious` test (from the 2001 Tour of Switzerland).”

"It would be impossible to cover up a test when there are multiple independent agencies responsible for testing."

Authorities are looking into doping in cycling, including possible fraud in claims made to sponsors that riders were clean.

They want to know if any Armstrong samples were suspicious and why and whether or not Armstrong or his representatives were tipped off in advance about test results. They also seek information about the actions of International Cycling Union (UCI) officials regarding such tests.

A UCI statement the day after the CBS report aired called Hamilton`s claims "completely unfounded", that it was "deeply shocked by the seriousness of the allegations" and that the UCI "has never altered or hidden the results of a positive test."

"The UCI can only confirm that Lance Armstrong has never been notified of a positive test result by any anti-doping laboratory."

Another admitted US dope cheat cyclist, Floyd Landis, accused Armstrong of doping last year to prompt Saugy to speak with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) executive director David Howman regarding a "suspicious" result during a doping analysis years earlier.

Howman told the Post that a suspicious test might be one that might signal possible drug use to authorities but not be beyond the limits of what would constitute a positive test.

Howman also noted that 2001 was the first year testing was done for EPO.

The CBS report also noted USD 125,000 in donations from Armstrong to the UCI since 2002, payments Landis called a bribe.

Bureau Report