French anti-doping chief wants to give Armstrong's 'B' samples to U.S. investigators
The man in charge of France's anti-doping agency said Thursday he is ready and willing to work with U.S. federal investigators looking into charges that there was systematic doping among professional cyclists, including seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.
Pierre Bordry (pictured at left) said he will hand over Armstrong's “B” samples from the 1999 tour to Jeff Novitzky if the Food and Drug Administration agent makes an official request. Novitzky is the lead investigator working with federal prosecutors in connection with a Los Angeles Grand Jury that has already subpoenaed a number of people close to Armstrong.
Armstrong's urine samples from that first Tour de France victory have been the subject of speculation ever since the French newspaper L'Equipe reported in 2005 that six of the "B" samples contained the banned blood-boosting hormone EPO.
Drug-testing procedures dictate that blood or urine be divided into A and B samples. But for a test to be declared positive, both samples must show traces of a banned substance. More to the point, though, there was no conclusive test for EPO at the time.
Word of Bordry's "cooperation" came hours after The Times revealed that a phone conversation secretly recorded by three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond was now in the hands of federal prosecutors and is expected to be presented to the grand jury.
Bordry has long hinted he doesn't believe Armstrong's denials. And Armstrong has long cast suspicion on the French lab's procedures.
In 2005, the French sports daily L'Equipe reported that Armstrong's backup "B" samples from 1999 contained EPO. Armstrong, however, was cleared by an independent panel.
Armstrong has pointed out that the panel concluded the samples had not been maintained properly and had been compromised in many ways.
Mark Fabiani, a member of Armstrong's legal team, said Thursday that the issue of the 1999 samples is “more old news, in an inquiry that is already chock-full of stale news.”
It should be noted that Bordry is not one to give up his pursuit of Armstrong.
As recently as 2008, Bordry offered to retest Armstrong's samples taken during the 1998 and 1999 Tours de France. To clear things up once and for all, Bordry said at the time. Armstrong -- not surprisingly given the distrust -- refused to consent to the retesting.
-- Debbie Goffa
Photo credit: Christophe Enea / Associated Press