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Lab chief refutes USADA claims in Armstrong doping scandal.

THE head of a drug-testing laboratory in Switzerland has denied giving banned cyclist Lance Armstrong "the key" to avoiding detection for the blood-boosting agent EPO.

Martial Saugy, director of the laboratory in Lausanne, was responding to claims made by the head of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that he had met Armstrong in 2002 and showed him how to circumvent tests.

Saugy has previously admitted meeting Armstrong and his US Postal team manager Johan Bruyneel but has insisted he did so at the request of the International Cycling Union (UCI).

Saugy said: "The answer to the question of whether I gave Lance Armstrong the key to circumvent EPO tests, is clearly no.

"I remain convinced that it (the meeting) was the right thing to do. It was not a mistake, nor naive as some have written.

"It would be paradoxical for the laboratory that reported the first case of EPO to give the key to circumvent tests. The fight against doping is our life's work."

The claims by USADA chief Travis Tygart has raised further questions about the UCI's involvement in the scandal.

Concerns have previously been expressed about a 'triangle' - with the UCI accepting a $100,000 donation from Armstrong in 2002 and around that time the UCI gave the Lausanne laboratory free use of a blood analyser worth $60-70,000.

Tygart, the man who brought charges against Armstrong that led to him being stripped of seven Tour de France titles, said Saugy had told him over dinner he had met Armstrong and Bruyneel at the request of the UCI in 2002 to explain how the EPO test worked.

The UCI insist that the meetings were arranged as a "deterrent" to show riders they were getting tough on doping and not to show them how to beat the system.

Armstrong is due to break his silence on the doping allegations on Oprah Winfrey's TV talk show next Thursday.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 12, 2013
Words:319
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