Lance Armstrong tested positive for steroids four times during his first Tour de France win, although he wasn’t suspended because the levels were consistent with his alibi of using a cream to treat saddle sores, cycling’s governing body said.
The banned cyclist, who in a January interview admitted using performance-enhancing drugs, has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and a 2000 Summer Olympics bronze medal.
The Union Cycliste Internationale said the American was tested 15 times during the 1999 Tour, and trace amounts of steroids were found in four urine samples. Because he didn’t test positive on some days in between, it lent weight to his excuse of using a cream for a skin problem, the UCI said today in an e-mailed statement.
Armstrong admitted in the January interview with Oprah Winfrey that his team doctor had post-dated a prescription for the drug, making it seem the steroids were for external use for an allergy, the UCI said.
“It should be stressed that this case was handled knowing only the facts which were apparent at that time,” the UCI said in the statement.
The governing body has been criticized for its relationship with Armstrong, which included accepting donations from the rider, and its inability to catch him doping.
Armstrong was stripped of his Tour de France titles and dropped by longtime sponsors including Nike Inc., Oakley Inc. and Anheuser-Busch InBev NV following the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s revelation in October that he was part of “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
The 41-year-old, now also banned for life from the Olympics, stepped down from Livestrong, the charity he founded in 1997 that says it has raised more than $470 million for the fight against cancer.