June 1, 2006-- Cyclists may have been waiting for this day, when seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong would clear his name of doping allegations. Emile Vrijman, a Dutch lawyer hired by the International Cycling Union to investigate the claims of doping by Armstrong declared in an independent report that since drug testers had mishandled Armstrong's urine samples, he could not come to the conclusion that the champion had been doping during the 1999 Tour, according to the Associated Press yesterday. But reactions by the cycling union indicate that they may not be in agreement with the report.
But Vrijman's report carries a lot of weight, since he is previous head of the Dutch anti-doping organization. In his report he also alleges that the French Ministry of Sport did not handle the urine samples in a way that would prevent tampering, and that they had refused to cooperate with his investigation. He also noted that the cycling union should refrain from any further diciplinary action against Armstrong.
A New York Times article this morning details Armstrong's lawsuit against the insurance company, SCA Promotions, who had withheld a $5 million dollar bonus for his sixth Tour win because of the drug allegations, which he won this February.
The report was not well received by the International Cycling Union, who posted a statement on their website saying they deplored the behavior of Vrijman because he "prematurely voiced" the report, and that they would read the report and come to their own conclusions. This may indicate that the union may still be looking for a way to continue the investigation.