Lab director denies hiding positive test

Updated: May 27, 2011, 5:44 PM ET
Associated Press

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- The head of Switzerland's anti-doping laboratory on Friday denied claims that Lance Armstrong tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs at the 2001 Tour de Suisse and the results were covered up.

Martial Saugy said his Lausanne lab did find suspicious levels of banned blood-booster EPO in four urine samples from the race that Armstrong won, but he didn't know if any belonged to the seven-time Tour de France winner.

"The tests were not swept under the table and it's not true that they could have been interpreted as positive," Saugy told Swiss daily Neue Zurcher Zeitung.

Former teammate Tyler Hamilton alleged in an interview with "60 Minutes" last Sunday that Armstrong spoke of using EPO to prepare for his third Tour de France win in 2001, and that cycling's governing body helped him hide a positive test at the Swiss warm-up event.

The CBS program also reported that International Cycling Union officials brokered a meeting involving Armstrong and Saugy's World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited lab, which tested the Swiss race samples.

Armstrong made a deal with the UCI and "figured out a way for it to go away," Hamilton said.

Saugy said Friday that he did meet with Armstrong and then U.S. Postal team manager Johan Bruyneel, but not in Lausanne as Hamilton claimed and unconnected to a suspicious test result.

"It also wasn't about discussing a particular result or to cover up anything," said Saugy, adding that the 2002 meeting occurred during a collection of blood samples.

Saugy said he gave U.S. Postal his routine presentation about EPO testing at a time when its validity and parameters were still in question.

"I explained how the EPO test worked and why there were suspect samples as well as positive ones," he told the NZZ.

Saugy, whose lab devised the UCI's biological passport program to monitor riders' blood, said only the governing body knew who provided the four suspicious samples a decade ago.

On Monday, the UCI said it "categorically rejects" Hamilton's claims that it said were "completely unfounded."

Hein Verbruggen, who was UCI president throughout Armstrong's Tour winning streak, said the governing body "never, ever" covered up a positive test under his leadership.

Verbruggen and current president Pat McQuaid are suing cyclist Floyd Landis in a Swiss court after he accused the UCI of protecting star riders from doping allegations.

Landis and Hamilton have both confessed to doping throughout their careers after years of denials.

Both have spoken with U.S. federal investigators who are investigating an alleged doping program in Armstrong's teams.

Armstrong steadfastly denies doping and has never tested positive.

"These most recent developments debunk Sunday's "60 Minutes" story, and underscore the evil of sloppy, opportunistic attacks on a hero to those battling cancer, based on false, leaked information about long ago bicycle races in Europe," Armstrong attorney Mark Fabiani said Friday.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press