Lawyer plans to look into accuracy of results

Updated: October 10, 2005, 8:53 AM ET
Associated Press

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- A Dutch lawyer investigating allegations that Lance Armstrong used the performance-enhancing drug EPO at the 1999 Tour de France said Monday he planned to look at the accuracy of the results and how they were made public.

"We're gathering our file of information together and assembling additional experts, and we expect to release a timetable for our investigation by the end of the week," said Emile Vrijman, assigned to the case by the International Cycling Union.

Seven-time Tour winner Armstrong denies using EPO, which wasn't tested for at the time.

The French newspaper L'Equipe claimed in August that traces of the drug were found in a set of Armstrong's backup samples thawed and retested last year.

Even if the report is accurate, the American is not likely to face sanction because the original "A" samples no longer exist.

The World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound accused former ICU president Hein Verbruggen of leaking documents about the alleged positive tests to L'Equipe. Pound also questioned the union's willingness to fully investigate the allegations.

Verbruggen denied Pound's accusations and claimed WADA was blocking its investigation by withholding information.

Both sides have ordered investigations of the matter.

Vrijman said that although the ICU is funding his investigation, it will be independent.

"In no way will they be able ... influence its results," he said. "I have a free hand to conduct the investigation."

Vrijman added that he also expected WADA to cooperate fully.

"I think it's in the interest of other sports that we look at this issue of retrospective research and make sure that it's dealt with within the rules," he told The Associated Press. "We also need to draw some conclusions about how we will deal with this issue in the future."

Vrijman headed the Dutch anti-doping agency for 10 years and later defended athletes accused of doping, including soccer player Edgar Davids, banned for five months for allegedly using the steroid nandrolone in 2001.

All findings would be made public, he said, but added that investigators wouldn't comment until their report is complete.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge called Friday for outside "independent observers" to investigate allegations, suggesting the ICU and WADA probes might suffer bias or the appearance of bias.

Rogge wants a group of experts who are linked to WADA but operate autonomously to settle the issues if the UCI and WADA investigations lead to different conclusions.

"If they have the same conclusion, no problem. But if they differ it would be good to go to the independent observers," Rogge said.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press