Armstrong says LeMond 'not in check with reality'

Updated: June 28, 2006, 11:26 AM ET
Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas -- Lance Armstrong denied Monday that he threatened three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond, calling the allegation "ridiculous.''

"Greg is just not in check with reality,'' Armstrong said Monday from New York City. "It's ridiculous. Greg is obsessed with foiling my career.

"I'm apoplectic when I read stuff like that,'' Armstrong said.

LeMond was the first American to win the Tour de France with victories in 1986 and 1989-90. Armstrong came back from life-threatening testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain to win seven in a row from 1999-2005 before retiring last year.

LeMond told the French weekly edition of L'Equipe Dimanche that he had testified in a recent legal dispute involving Armstrong.

"He threatened my wife, my business, my livelihood,'' LeMond told the newspaper. "His biggest threat consisted of saying he would find 10 people to testify that I took EPO. Of course, he didn't find a single one.''

America's top cyclists have had a public feud since 2001 when LeMond said he was unhappy about Armstrong's association with Italian doctor Michele Ferrari, who had been linked to doping accusations but later was cleared by an appeals court.

Armstrong cut ties with Ferrari before the 2005 Tour.

Armstrong was involved in a battle over a $5 million performance bonus owed to him after winning the Tour de France in 2004. Dallas-based SCA Promotions had withheld the money under allegations Armstrong was doping, which he denied.

After three weeks of testimony from dozens of witnesses, the three-member arbitration panel ruled in Armstrong's favor and ordered the company to pay him $7.5 million.

Betsy Andreu, the wife of Armstrong's former teammate, Frankie Andreu, claimed that Armstrong, days after he underwent brain surgery in 1996, told a doctor he had used the blood-boosting hormone EPO and other drugs. Frankie Andreu also gave similar testimony before the panel.

Armstrong denied those claims and his lawyer released an affidavit from the doctor who led his chemotherapy treatments saying there is no medical record of any such admission.

"I would have recorded such a confession as a matter of form, as indeed, would have my colleagues,'' Dr. Craig Nichols said. "None was recorded.''

Armstrong, who has shifted his career to promoting cancer research, said he would continue to aggressively fight allegations he used performance-enhancing drugs.

"We have won them all,'' Armstrong said. "I never run from anything. If you've got stuff to hide, you wouldn't do like I've done.''


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press