Book accuses Armstrong of using EPO

Updated: June 15, 2004, 11:10 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Lance Armstrong's lawyers will initiate libel proceedings Tuesday in response to a book that reiterates allegations he has used illegal substances since recovering from cancer in 1998.

The elite cyclist has never tested positive for banned substances, has never been disciplined and has repeatedly denied using illegal substances.

Nevertheless, the French-language book, "L.A. Confidential, the Secrets of Lance Armstrong" -- scheduled to be released this week -- cites a former staff member on Armstrong's team as saying the U.S. cyclist asked her to dispose of used syringes and lend him makeup to conceal needle marks on his arms.

Lance Armstrong
Armstrong begins his bid to win a record sixth straight Tour de France next month.

The book is co-written by London Sunday Times sports reporter David Walsh and Pierre Ballester, a cycling expert formerly with L'Equipe. Walsh also wrote a story critical of Armstrong in 2001, linking him to Dr. Michele Ferrari, who was forced to leave the Gewiss-Ballan team after comments about EPO.

A spokesman for his U.S. Postal Service team, Jogi Muller, said Walsh was seeking "personal revenge" against the cyclist.

On his Web site, www.lancearmstrong.com, Armstrong issued a statement in which he denied the latest allegations and has instructed his lawyers to "immediately institute libel proceedings" in two different courts:

  • In the High Court in London against the Sunday Times and Walsh seeking an injunction and substantial damages;

  • In Paris, against Walsh, Ballester, the publishers of "LA Confidential" and the publishers of L'Express, the French newspaper in which excerpts of the book appeared this week.

    Armstrong's lawyers said in a statement that their client "reacted with consternation and firmness at the false allegations."

    "Our client vigorously denies having taken any product with a view to improve his performances," the statement read.

    The heart of the accusations come from Emma O'Reilly, who worked for 3½ years as Armstrong's masseur, physical therapist and personal assistant. A USPS team spokesman confirmed O'Reilly "was a past employee" but declined additional comment.

    O'Reilly, according to the reports, accuses Armstrong of using the banned substance EPO (erythropoietin), which helps endurance athletes by boosting concentrations of red blood cells.

    The book claims Armstrong asked O'Reilly to dispose of a black bag containing the used syringes after the Tour of the Netherlands in 1998. O'Reilly said she did not know what was in the syringes, according to the book.

    In addition, the book claims that in May 1999 Armstrong asked O'Reilly to drive to Spain to pick up drugs and bring them to his training camp in France, where he took delivery.

    Excerpts of the book were published Monday, a few weeks before Armstrong begins his bid to win a record sixth straight Tour de France next month.

    Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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