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Cyclist Lance Armstrong Denies Using Performance Enhancing Drugs - 2004-06-16

Lawyers for five-time Tour de France winning cyclist Lance Armstrong are preparing legal action against the writers and publishers of a new book that charges the American cycling star used performance-enhancing drugs.

The book L.A. Confidential, the Secrets of Lance Armstrong quotes a former trainer with the U.S. Postal Service cycling team as saying that Armstrong used the endurance-boosting drug, EPO.

Armstrong, who has never tested positive for drugs, has vehemently denied the latest charges.

"This is not the first time it's happened to me," he said. "This stuff started back in 1998 when I came back from cancer and finished fourth in the Tour of Spain. Immediately I had questions: How is that possible? When I won the Tour in 1999, even more questions. It has happened every year since then."

His attorneys say they will sue the book's authors and publishers as well as two newspapers that published excerpts from it this week.

"For five or six years, I've ignored it," Armstrong said. "But now with this book coming out over there and realizing the integrity of these guys [the authors] is very questionable, and they have been doing it to me for years. We just say 'enough.' So now we have filed action in England and in France and we are not going to let them up."

Armstrong is trying to become the first cyclist to win the Tour de France six times. But, he says the release of the book has been disruptive.

"It has been a distraction," he admitted. "But, I just have to sit back and go Zen [be contemplative] on this thing and know that the Tour is hard enough and I don't need these kinds of things. So, I'll go back to Europe and I'll be back on the bike. And I want to win the Tour. I am not going to let this derail it. This is my job, it is my passion and I'm going for it."

Lance Armstrong has won cycling's premier event the past five years. This year's Tour starts July 2.