AUSTIN, Texas - A former personal assistant to Lance Armstrong filed court papers Thursday alleging that he discovered a banned substance in the cycling champion’s apartment early last year.
Armstrong’s attorney, Timothy Herman, called the allegation false and “absurd.”
Speculation kept building, meanwhile, that Armstrong would retire later this year after trying to win his seventh straight Tour de France.
“Four more months and it’s over ...,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport, the Italian newspaper reported Thursday.
“I miss my kids and all the pressure I have on me is taking its toll,” he said.
Armstrong has scheduled a press conference in the United States on April 18 before the Tour of Georgia. He signed a two-year contract with his new team sponsor before this season, but the deal requires that he race just one more Tour de France.
“You will all know a little more in two weeks’ time,” he said after finishing 24th in the Paris-Camembert cycling race this week. “I have to talk to the press and I have to tell them something important.
“The only thing I know for sure is that I will be starting the Tour de France this year. But it could be the last.”
Mark Higgins, a spokesman for Capital Sports Entertainment — which represents Armstrong and runs the Discovery Channel team — would only say Thursday: “Lance will make an announcement at the press conference that is to be determined.”
In Texas, Mike Anderson, who is involved in a legal fight with Armstrong over alleged promises the cyclist made to help Anderson start a bike shop, made the claim about a banned substance in a brief filed in state district court.
Armstrong, who is in Europe, has maintained that he is drug-free. The cancer survivor frequently notes he is one of the most drug-tested athletes in the world.
“We are not going to be blackmailed or pay extortion money to hide something that isn’t true,” Herman said.
Anderson, who says he had a key to Armstrong’s apartment in Girona, Spain, alleges he was cleaning the bathroom in “early 2004” when he found a white box labeled “like any other prescription drug” but that did not have a doctor’s prescription attached.
Written on the box was the trademark name “Androstenine, or something very close to this,” Anderson said.
“He went to the computer, looked it up on the WADA or USADA Web site(s), and confirmed that what he had found was an androgen, a listed banned substance,” Anderson’s court brief states, referring to the World Anti-Doping Agency and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
Anderson said he put the box back in the medicine cabinet where he found it. Fearing he would be fired, he said he did not confront Armstrong about it. He said he looked for the box again after Armstrong left Girona to train in the Canary Islands, but didn’t find it.
2010 Tour de France