Tuesday, January 16, 2001
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Posted on: Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Cyclist Armstrong angered by French drug probe

USA Today

TUCSON, Ariz. — Lance Armstrong makes his living riding a bike, but he knows how to play hardball.

The wiry and fiery cyclist overcame cancer to win the grueling Tour de France — twice. Now he’s showing his Texan grit in a verbal battle with French judicial authorities who have launched an investigation into alleged drug use by Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service team.

"It’s unfortunate that the biggest bike race in the world is in France," Armstrong said last week while training with his team in Arizona. "We’re living in an era of French innuendo and insinuation.

"We’re living in an era of doping frenzy in sports," he said. "If you jump, run, swim or ride fast, you’re questioned."

The new inquiry is not the first time he’s been dogged by doping rumors in France. In his 1999 Tour campaign, he was constantly peppered by media questions about drug use.

The 2000 Tour was relatively quiet, but that peace was broken almost immediately after the race when a French television crew revealed it had discovered suspicious medical items in a trash bag discarded by U.S. Postal team staff members.

"Doping is a trendy topic in France," Armstrong said. "That’s where all this comes from. I couldn’t figure out why until (French teammate) Cedric Vasseur told me that people in France don’t like the winner, they like the runner-up."

The focus of the current probe is use of the drug Actovegin, which is believed to increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of an athlete’s blood.

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