Lance Armstrong Rebuts Latest Doping Allegations

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is making the media rounds this week to rebut the latest doping allegations against him. In particular, he is denying sworn testimony from two witnesses who say he openly acknowledged in 1996 that he had used performance-enhancing drugs.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Lance Armstrong has spent this weekend promotion in self-defense. The seven time winner of the Tour De France is been making the TV talk show rounds to discuss his life as a celebrity and cancer activist. But he has also been responding to new doping allegations. Armstrong has always denied using banned performance enhancing drugs, and he continues to deny the most recent allegations.

We're going now to NPR's Tom Goldman. Tom, good morning.

TOM GOLDMAN reporting:

Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: You're one of few reporters who brought us the latest details, the latest allegations about Lance Armstrong in the last few days. What are the basics?

GOLDMAN: The basics are this is a story that has to with sworn testimony by two witnesses, in particular, in a legal case that involved Armstrong took place late last year - early this year. This testimony by the two witnesses is that they heard Armstrong back in 1996 admit to a doctor that he had used several banned performance enhancing drugs in the past.

And the witnesses said it happened in an Indiana University Hospital where Armstrong was being treated for testicular cancer.

INSKEEP: And what's different about these allegations compared to all the other allegations against Armstrong over the years?

GOLDMAN: These allegations involve an admission, and that's rare. and it also has to do with sworn testimony. People are saying things under oath. They're running the risk of perjury if they lie.

INSKEEP: And we should add that Armstrong and another person who is in the hospital room when this allegedly happened said, under oath, it didn't happen.

GOLDMAN: Yes. That's absolutely true. There is evidence however, which NPR has seen, that this other person acknowledged, to at least two people the year before the sworn testimony, that this person in fact was in the room and witnessed Armstrong making this alleged admission of performance enhancing drug-use.

INSKEEP: So those are the allegation we've heard on NPR and some other news organizations in the last few days. What has Lance Armstrong been saying in response?

GOLDMAN: He's been going on the talk show circuit, as you said. These are previously scheduled appearances on TV shows. And, all the questioners have essentially been sympathetic to Armstrong. They're portraying this all as the latest attack by the French press.

No one is mentioning the two reputable American media organizations; ours, and the Los Angeles Times, also have been doing month's long independent investigations on this hospital room incident.

He hasn't really been pressed, except on ESPN's Outside the Lines. On that show he answered very forcefully. He questioned the reliability and the motivations of the two witnesses who swore under oath that they saw and heard him admit to the drugs.

He's pointed out that he's won every legal case and has been cleared of every investigation related to doping. And last night on Charlie Rose, he suggested the person at the center of all the doping allegations, not just this latest story we've been talking about, is Richard Pound - Dick Pound, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency. The two of them have been feuding publicly in recent weeks and Armstrong's comments last night, undoubtedly will fuel that feud.

INSKEEP: So as Lance Armstrong is issuing his denials I gather you have found yet another person who says that they were a witness to this hospital room incident, yesterday. What did they say?

GOLDMAN: Well, this person has said all along, that he was a witness to this. Frankie Andreu, a former long time teammate and friend of Armstrong's, has not spoken publicly about that, though. And yesterday he finally did. He broke his silence with NPR and he talked about defending his wife Betsy Andreu, who has been kind of the principal accuser in this story.

He said that the hospital room incident happened, and that he wasn't motivated by anything other then telling the truth. Frankie Andreu is retired from competition. He still earns a living in sport, and saying these things about the biggest name in cycling, he says, puts him at considerable financial risk.

INSKEEP: Okay. That's NPR sport correspondent Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks for your work on this.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome, Steve.

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