UCI refutes '01 Tour de Suisse claims

AIGLE, Switzerland -- The International Cycling Union said Tuesday that no riders tested positive for EPO at the 2001 Tour de Suisse, disputing comments made by disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis.

Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping and served a two-year ban, has claimed that seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong tested positive at the Tour de Suisse and officials covered it up.

"Due to the controversy following the statements made by Floyd Landis, the International Cycling Union wishes to stress that none of the tests revealed the presence of EPO in the samples taken from riders at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland," the UCI said in a statement. "The UCI has all the documentation to prove this fact."

Armstrong won the Swiss race in 2001. Landis claimed that Armstrong tested positive while winning in 2002, a timeline Armstrong himself said left him "confused," because he did not compete in the event in 2002. It was also in 2002, Landis claimed in e-mails to cycling officials and sponsors, when Armstrong paid off the UCI's former president to conceal the positive result.

In a news conference held before the finish of Tuesday's time-trial stage at the Giro d'Italia, UCI president Pat McQuaid confirmed Armstrong pledged to make a $100,000 donation to UCI in 2002, but the money was not received until 2005.

"Lance and Johan [Bruyneel] were visiting the UCI headquarters in 2002 just after it opened. They got a guided tour of what we're doing there, so in that context, Lance offered $100,000 to help in the aid and development of cycling. The UCI decided to use that money to buy a Sysmex machine [used to test blood], which we purchased some time afterward," he told reporters. "I don't believe there is a conflict of interest. The machine still in use today and we test riders before the Grand Tours. If there is money left over, it is still in the UCI account.

"To the best of my knowledge, the UCI has not received any donations from other riders. There was only one donation from Armstrong, not two or three as I have read in some places. The UCI would be very careful before accepting a donation from a rider in the future. The UCI is not a rich organization. We have many, many demands for support and financial and material aid from developing countries all over the world. So anyone who can help us, we're always willing to listen."

While UCI dismissed Landis' claim of a cover-up, McQuaid did say UCI has directed USADA to open an investigation into the Landis allegations.

Last week, Landis admitted for the first time what had long been suspected -- that he was guilty of doping for several years before being stripped of his 2006 Tour title.

Landis, who promised to provide more details, also implicated at least 16 other people in various doping acts, including longtime Armstrong confidant George Hincapie, Olympic medalist Levi Leipheimer and Canadian cyclist Michael Barry.

The leaders of the IOC and World Anti-Doping Agency said last week that Landis should provide evidence to back up his allegations.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.