Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong admitted in 1996 he took banned drugs including EPO when he was receiving cancer treatment, according to a Friday report in the French daily LeMonde.
Lance Armstrong retired from cycling after winning his seventh Tour title last July. (Friedemann Vogel / Getty Images)
"According to new testimonies gathered from October 2005 to January 2006 by a court in Dallas, the seven-time Tour de France winner told a Indiana University Hospital doctor on October 28, 1996 he had taken performance-enhancing drugs," Le Monde said.
"The doctor questioned him on a possible use of doping products after his brain surgery in order to prescribe his post-surgery treatment.
"In front of (former teammate) Frankie Andreu and his wife, who have testified under oath in Dallas, Armstrong said he had taken EPO, testosterone, growth hormones and cortisone."
Reuters reported on the French story Friday and tried unsuccessfully to contact the sport's governing body, the International Cycling Union, for comment.
Armstrong has consistently and steadfastly denied taking banned substances. He retired from competitive cycling after winning his seventh Tour title last July.
"The doctor started by asking ordinary questions. And then, all of a sudden, 'have you taken doping products? And he answers 'yes'. Then he (the doctor) asks which ones. And Lance goes: 'EPO, growth hormones, cortisone, steroids, testosterone," Betsey Andreu, a former friend of Armstrong's, reportedly said in court according to Le Monde.
As the Reuters report points out, EPO stands for erythropoietin, and it is known to increase blood's oxygen-carrying capacity. That makes it especially valuable for cyclists, cross-country skiers and distance runners.