February 27/06 7:21 am - UCI Admits L'Equipe Given Armstrong Doping Forms
Posted by Editor on 02/27/06
UCI Admits L'Equipe Given Armstrong Doping Forms
The UCI has released a statement explaining the circumstances which led to the French publication getting hold of doping control documents for Lance Armstrong from the 1999 Tour de France. Basically, the UCI states that L'Equipe was given permission to look at documents to verify their authenticity and to receive a photocopy of one document as a sample. Instead, the UCI staff gave copies of all 15 documents, which the journalist (Damien Ressiot) then used to identify sample codes and match them to a confidential document discussing research undertaken on the 1999 samples.
Full text of the UCI statement:
When they met at the Olympic Winter Games in Torino, WADA's Chairman Dick Pound told UCI's Vice-President Hein Verbruggen that WADA had in its possession copies of the 15 doping control forms signed by Lance Armstrong during the 1999 Tour de France and that those copies originated from the UCI.
The UCI has immediately carried out an internal investigation and found to its disappointment that this information appears to be correct. The UCI had previously made public statements that only a photocopy of one form had been given to Mr. Ressiot from L'Equipe based upon the assurances of the staff member concerned.
In July 2005 Damien Ressiot from L'Equipe informed UCI that he wanted to write an article on Lance Armstrong confirming that since his return to competition in 1999, he had never taken any medicine in relation with possible consequences of the cancer he had overcome. It was agreed with Mr. Armstrong that Mr. Ressiot could come and see the doping control forms at the UCI office and ascertain for himself that no such medication had been mentioned on the forms by Mr. Armstrong. While at the UCI office Mr. Ressiot asked for and was authorized to have a copy of one doping control form as an example, in order to prove to his readers that he had effectively had consulted the forms.
However, Mr. Ressiot's article of 23 August in L'Equipe was about the confidential report of the anti-doping laboratory of Paris containing results of research conducted on 1999 Tour de France samples. The laboratory had sent this confidential report the day before to WADA and the French Ministry of Sports. Oddly enough, and notwithstanding the condition set by the French laboratory that it could not be used for disciplinary purposes, this research report contained the original codes of the samples collected back in 1999.
Mr. Ressiot got a copy of this confidential report and published it in L'Equipe with six doping control forms signed by Lance Armstrong. He linked the forms to the code numbers contained in the report. At the same time he published three pages of comments and related articles, including a small article on Mr. Armstrong's medication. He wrote that he had been working on this publication for four months.
It is evident to the UCI that Mr. Ressiot had used a dishonest pretext in order to accessing the doping control forms of Mr. Armstrong which were in the possession of the UCI.
However, based upon the assurances of the staff member concerned, UCI made public statements that only a photocopy of one form had been given to Mr. Ressiot. Mr. Ressiot refused to say where he got the other forms from, invoking the confidentiality of his sources (which did not prevent him from revealing his source to others and distributing copies of these documents also to third parties).
The internal investigation of the UCI has indeed resulted in the fact that the staff member concerned has now admitted that he must have given to Mr. Ressiot a copy of all 15 forms, instead of just one.
It is to be emphasized that this was done in the absolute conviction that Mr. Ressiot was indeed doing his inquiry for the purpose of writing an article proving that Mr. Armstong never asked for an authorization to use any drugs after he successfully fought his cancer.
The UCI also underlines that the UCI management was not aware until now that more than one copy of a doping control form had been given to Mr. Ressiot and that the statements of the UCI after the publication in L'Equipe reflected the information that it had at that time.
The UCI regrets that it was not correctly informed as from the beginning and apologizes for any misunderstanding to the public. However it also regrets the dubious practices used by certain journalists. For its part UCI has immediately taken the appropriate internal measures.
For the rest the UCI awaits the results of the independent investigation on the doping allegations against Lance Armstrong.