ARMSTRONG UNDER FIRE

FRANCE - A lawyer acting for seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong has rubbished a report claiming that a federal investigation into the American is gathering pace.

FRANCE - A lawyer acting for seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong has rubbished a report claiming that a federal investigation into the American is gathering pace.

Armstrong is reportedly at the centre of a probe in the US after doping allegations made by former teammate Floyd Landis.

Landis was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France crown after a positive drugs test, and after years of denials the American confessed to doping two months ago to "clear his conscience".

In doing so, Landis also implicated Armstrong and other teammates at their former team, US Postal, claiming they were involved in systematic doping practices - allegations that have been denied by Armstrong, who has never tested positive.

A report in Saturday's online edition of the Wall Street Journal, which has twice carried damning allegations from Landis, said the investigation was gathering pace and that several parties were being brought in to co-operate.

But Timothy Herman, a lawyer acting for Armstrong, said on the American's personal website that the report could not be taken seriously.

"Garbage in, garbage out. That's the best way to describe the Wall Street Journal article today based on improper leaks and discredited innuendo about the investigation into Floyd Landis ever changing stories," said the statement.

"The more appropriate investigation and use of taxpayer money would focus on the confessed fraud committed by Landis, an admitted perjurer with an agenda.

"These kind of leaks, and the stories based on them, are inaccurate, are extraordinarily unfair and are used for publicity and advancing personal agendas."

After the race's seventh stage in France on Saturday, Armstrong maintained his stance that Landis had no credibility and could not be believed.

"I don't think there's anything new. Is there something I missed?" he said when asked to react to the report. - Sapa-AFP

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