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Armstrong tries to block "drug" book

AUSTIN, TEXAS — AUSTIN, Texas - Lance Armstrong will try today to stop the release of a tell-all book co-written by a British journalist who for years has feuded with the five-time defending Tour de France champion.

Armstrong's attorneys will file suits in London and Paris to halt today's European release of L.A. Confidential: The Secrets of Lance Armstrong. The book, co- written by London sportswriter David Walsh, includes allegations from a former masseuse for Armstrong's U.S. Postal team that the Austin cyclist used performance-enhancing substances during races in 1998 and 1999.

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"Lance Armstrong utterly denies ever having taken any performance-enhancing drugs." said a U.S. Postal statement released yesterday. "Accordingly, Lance Armstrong has instructed his lawyers to immediately institute libel proceedings."

Armstrong has hired Schilling Solicitors, considered to be the top media law firm in England.

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There is a well-documented, acrimonious relationship between Armstrong and Walsh, who has written stories suggesting Armstrong may have used performance-enhancing substances to win his Tour titles. He works for the Sunday Times of London.

Walsh wrote a story in 2001 questioning Armstrong's relationship with Italian doctor Michelle Ferrari, who is on trial in Italy for prescribing illegal drugs to cyclists, though none of the charges pertain to Armstrong. Before the story was published, Armstrong announced that he had used Ferrari since 1995 as a consultant on diet and altitude training.

After the story ran, Walsh stood up during a 2001 Tour news conference and peppered Armstrong about his alleged drug use and whether his training practices were ethical.

"The proof is there." Armstrong shot back. "You don't want to believe that."

Armstrong is the most drug- tested cyclist in the world. As required by Tour rules, Armstrong was tested each day he won a stage or wore the leader's yellow jersey dating to his first Tour victory in 1999. He also is subjected to random, out-of-competition testing. He has yet to test positive for a performance-enhancer.

Excerpts, printed this weekend by L"Express, a French magazine, and the Sunday Times of London, suggested that Armstrong did use these banned substances, including the blood booster erythropoietin (EPO).

The excerpts quote Emma O"Reilly, a masseuse and physical therapist who worked with U.S. Postal from 1998 to 2000, a period that spanned his return to competitive racing after advanced testicular cancer to his second Tour de France championship.

According to the book, O"Reilly claims she disposed of used syringes after the 1998 Tour of Holland; that she was sent to pick up a vial of pills and deliver them to Armstrong during a pre-Tour training camp in 1999; and that she was asked to use makeup to conceal a syringe mark on Armstrong's arm before the start of the 1999 Tour.

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In addition, she claimed that during the 1999 Tour, Postal team officials forged a prescription for glucocorticoid after Armstrong tested positive for the substance, which is commonly used to treat road rash skin abrasions. Because Armstrong had a prescription, he was allowed to continue competing in the Tour.

O'Reilly, however, said she did not know what was in the syringes or the vial. She left the team in 2000.


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