Pound: Armstrong investigations to continue

TORONTO -- Investigations into doping allegations against seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will continue into the New Year, World Anti-Doping Agency president Dick Pound said.

"It's not going to go away," Pound told Reuters. "We're
dealing with all the spins out there right now, but behind scenes
there are investigations quietly proceeding.

"There is no urgency because he is not going to be in
another race, but there are some explanations that are going to
have be given."

After Armstrong's seventh Tour victory in July, the French
sports daily L'Equipe published a story alleging Armstrong had
taken the banned blood booster erythropoietin in 1999.

Armstrong, 34, who retired after the race, has denied ever
taking performance-enhancing drugs.

In the interview, Pound was also critical of the role played
by the International Cycling Union.

"The UCI says it is conducting an investigation, although we
can't seem to get information about it, and we are doing our
own," said Pound. "I'd rather have the UCI do it; by all
accounts they should. If they do a complete and thorough
investigation, more power to them.

"But I'm not overly confident so far. Right now the only
thing they seem concerned about is how did this embarrassing
information get into the public.

"And there are another 15 or so positive tests on which they
refuse to comment."

L'Equipe's report said the newspaper had gained access to
laboratory documents which reported that six of Armstrong's
urine samples collected on the 1999 Tour showed "indisputable" traces of EPO.

The newspaper published what it said was a results sheet
from the laboratory which appeared to show six figures revealing traces of EPO. The newspaper also published documents from the
French cycling federation showing exactly the same figures under
Armstrong's name.

Investigations into the allegation, however, soon stalled as
WADA, the UCI and the French cycling federation engaged in a
bitter public debate on how to proceed.

Armstrong, who overcame testicular cancer to become the most
successful rider in cycling history, briefly threatened to
return to France to race in one more Tour.

But he said in a recent interview that, "race organizers can
sleep peacefully, they won't have to look at Armstrong eye to

Armstrong, however, will be making an appearance in an
Italian court in March when he will go on trail for defamation,
a charge that carries a maximum six-year prison sentence.

The charge stems from another interview Armstrong gave to
the French daily Le Monde in which he called fellow rider
Filippo Simeoni a liar.

Simeoni gave evidence in 2002 during the trial of
Armstrong's former coach Michele Ferrari saying Ferrari had
given him doping substances.