Originally created 06/02/06


How do you say "smear" in French?

When a French newspaper alleged last August that Lance Armstrong's body fluids from the 1999 Tour de France tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance in 2004 tests, an investigation was launched.

Now, a report by a Dutch investigator thoroughly clears Armstrong - and actually alleges possible ethical and legal violations by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Clearly, the French were eager to prove that an American could not possibly have won the Tour de France as handily or as often as Armstrong did; he retired last year after winning the world's most prestigious cycling race a record seven times.

A 132-page report by Dutch investigators recommends convening a tribunal to look into the actions of the WADA and perhaps others who leaked bad information to the French paper L'Equipe.

The report, says lead Dutch investigator Emile Vrijman, "exonerates Lance Armstrong completely with respect to alleged use of doping in the 1999 Tour de France." The report also says the WADA and a French anti-doping laboratory "behaved in ways that are completely inconsistent with the rules and regulations of international anti-doping control testing."

That's both frightening and sad. If the world's anti-doping authorities can't be trusted to fairly treat history's best competitive cyclist and a living legend, then who is safe?


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