The New York Times reports Tuesday that two former teammates of cycling champion Lance Armstrong have admitted they used the endurance boosting drug EPO while training for the Tour de France in 1999.
Armstrong won the Tour that year - the first of his seven consecutive victories in the world's premier cycling event. Both of the former teammates interviewed by the newspaper said they never saw Armstrong take any banned drugs.
Frankie Andreu, a former captain of Armstrong's U.S. Postal Service racing team, said he took EPO several times in 1999 to improve his race performance. Now retired from professional cycling at age 39, Andreu says he decided to speak out now because doping is causing so much damage to the sport.
The Times did not identify the second rider quoted in its story. Both he and Andreu reportedly said they felt they had to take EPO in 1999 to ensure their performances were fast enough to qualify for Armstrong's Tour de France team.
Armstrong has repeatedly denied allegations that he used banned drugs both before and after his remarkable recovery from cancer - a comeback that climaxed in his unprecedented successes in the Tour de France. The Times said it tried but was unable to contact Armstrong for comment on the admissions published Tuesday.