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Assistant alleges possession in court brief

AUSTIN, Texas -- A former personal assistant to Lance
Armstrong filed court papers Thursday alleging that he discovered a
banned substance in the cycling champion's apartment early last
year.

Armstrong's attorney, Timothy Herman, called the allegation
false and "absurd."

Speculation kept building, meanwhile, that Armstrong would
retire later this year after trying to win his seventh straight
Tour de France.

"Four more months and it's over ...," he told Gazzetta dello
Sport, the Italian newspaper reported Thursday.

"I miss my kids and all the pressure I have on me is taking its
toll," he said.

Armstrong has scheduled a press conference in the United States
on April 18 before the Tour of Georgia. He signed a two-year
contract with his new team sponsor before this season, but the deal
requires that he race just one more Tour de France.

"You will all know a little more in two weeks' time," he said
after finishing 24th in the Paris-Camembert cycling race this week.
"I have to talk to the press and I have to tell them something
important.

"The only thing I know for sure is that I will be starting the
Tour de France this year. But it could be the last."

Mark Higgins, a spokesman for Capital Sports Entertainment --
which represents Armstrong and runs the Discovery Channel team --
would only say Thursday: "Lance will make an announcement at the
press conference that is to be determined."

In Texas, Mike Anderson, who is involved in a legal fight with
Armstrong over alleged promises the cyclist made to help Anderson
start a bike shop, made the claim about a banned substance in a
brief filed in state district court.

Armstrong, who is in Europe, has maintained that he is
drug-free. The cancer survivor frequently notes he is one of the
most drug-tested athletes in the world.

"We are not going to be blackmailed or pay extortion money to
hide something that isn't true," Herman said.

Anderson, who says he had a key to Armstrong's apartment in
Girona, Spain, alleges he was cleaning the bathroom in "early
2004" when he found a white box labeled "like any other
prescription drug" but that did not have a doctor's prescription
attached.

Written on the box was the trademark name "Androstenine, or
something very close to this," Anderson said.

"He went to the computer, looked it up on the WADA or USADA Web
site[s], and confirmed that what he had found was an androgen, a
listed banned substance," Anderson's court brief states, referring
to the World Anti-Doping Agency and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Anderson said he put the box back in the medicine cabinet where
he found it. Fearing he would be fired, he said he did not confront
Armstrong about it. He said he looked for the box again after
Armstrong left Girona to train in the Canary Islands, but didn't
find it.

In an interview, Anderson said, "I had a job to do, that's why
I kept my mouth shut. I tried for a very long time to give him the
benefit of the doubt. I waited for months to even tell my wife."

Anderson said it was the only time he found the alleged
substance and that he never saw Armstrong take any steroids or
other banned substances.

Anderson also said he and Armstrong had a discussion in 2004
about cyclists who dope and claimed Armstrong told him, "Everyone
does it."

Armstrong's attorney, Hal Gillespie, said that conversation took
place before Anderson allegedly found the steroid. The lawyer also
said he plans to depose Armstrong.

Anderson said he believes Armstrong knew about the alleged
discovery because their relationship began to deteriorate almost
immediately.

"We were friends, and then overnight, we were treated as very,
very low class servants," Anderson said, although he continued to
work for him until November.

Herman countered that the two maintained a good relationship for
several more months.

Anderson said he was working as a mechanic at a local bike store
when he met Armstrong more than four years ago. They became
friends, often riding together, and Anderson regularly worked on
Armstrong's bikes before becoming his personal assistant in
November 2002.

Anderson said he was paid about $3,000 a month for duties that
ranged from building bike trails on Armstrong's Hill Country
property to doing his grocery shopping in Spain.

Anderson said he was fired in November 2004 after asking for,
and getting, a $500-a-month raise. He said Armstrong's
representatives offered him a severance package totaling $7,000.

Armstrong and his personal service company, Luke David LLC, sued
Anderson about a month later, claiming Anderson demanded Armstrong
pay him $500,000, give him a signed Tour de France jersey and
future endorsements to help him set up his own bike shop.

Anderson countersued, accusing the cyclist of fraud, breach of
contract and causing him severe emotional distress. Anderson says
an e-mail Armstrong sent to offer him the job promised the help and
should be considered a binding contract.

Anderson said Armstrong also demanded he sign a confidentiality
agreement that would have held him liable for up to $1 million in
damages.

Thursday's filing came because the court wanted more details in
support of Anderson's claim.

Anderson said he reported the steroid claim to bolster his case
that he was mistreated by Armstrong.

"I had no desire whatsoever to come out with this stuff,"
Anderson said. "I sought a settlement and then they sued me. If
somebody wants to say I want to get money out of it, they're
insulting my intelligence."