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Report clears Armstrong of doping

AMSTERDAM -- A Dutch investigator's report cleared Lance Armstrong of doping in the 1999 Tour de France yesterday, calling the accusations against him ``completely irresponsible" and raising the possibility of misconduct by anti-doping authorities.

The 132-page report recommended convening a tribunal to discuss possible legal and ethical violations by the World Anti-Doping Agency and to consider ``appropriate sanctions to remedy the violations."

The French sports daily L'Equipe reported in August that six of Armstrong's urine samples from 1999, when he won the first of his record seven straight Tour titles, came back positive for the endurance-boosting hormone EPO when they were retested in 2004.

Armstrong has repeatedly denied using banned substances.

``Today's comprehensive report makes it clear that there is no truth to that accusation," Armstrong said in a statement. ``I have now retired, but for the sake of all athletes still competing who deserve a level playing field and a fair system of drug testing, the time has come to take action against these kinds of attacks before they destroy the credibility of WADA and, in turn, the international anti-doping system."

The International Cycling Union appointed Dutch lawyer Emile Vrijman last October to investigate the handling of urine tests from the 1999 Tour by the French national anti-doping laboratory, known by its French acronym LNDD.

Vrijman said his report ``exonerates Armstrong completely with respect to alleged use of doping in the 1999 Tour de France."

The report said tests on the samples were conducted improperly, and fell so short of scientific standards that it was ``completely irresponsible" to suggest that the results ``constitute evidence of anything." It said no proper records were kept of the samples.

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