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Report clears Armstrong of doping in 1999 Tour de France
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- Lance Armstrong called it a "witch hunt" from the very beginning, saying a French newspaper used dubious evidence to accuse him of doping -- even charging that lab officials mishandled his samples and broke the rules.
According to a Dutch investigator's findings released Wednesday, he may have been right.
The report, commissioned late last year by the International Cycling Union, cleared the record seven-time Tour de France champion of allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his first win in 1999.
It said tests on urine samples were conducted improperly and fell so short of scientific standards that it was "completely irresponsible" to suggest they "constitute evidence of anything."
The investigation also concluded that the French laboratory that handled the samples and the World Anti-Doping Agency "violated applicable rules on athlete confidentiality by commenting publicly on the alleged positive findings."
The report recommended convening a tribunal to discuss possible legal and ethical violations by WADA, which is headed by Dick Pound, and to consider "appropriate sanctions to remedy the violations."
Armstrong has repeatedly denied using banned substances.
In a statement Wednesday, he said the investigation confirms "what I have been saying since this witch hunt began: Dick Pound, WADA, the French laboratory, the French Ministry of Sport, L'Equipe, and the Tour de France organizers ... have been out to discredit and target me without any basis and falsely accused me of taking performance enhancing drugs in 1999.
"Today's comprehensive report makes it clear that there is no truth to that accusation."