A new report alleges that seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has maintained ties to Michele Ferrari, an Italian doctor who has long been linked to helping elite cyclists cheat, despite publicly severing ties with her in 2004.
According to the piece that will hit news stands in the January 19 issue of Sports Illustrated, "If a court finds that Armstrong won his titles while taking performance-enhancing drugs, his entourage may come to be known as the domestiques of the saddest deception in sports history."
Citing an unnamed source, the S.I. report indicates that when Italian authorities carried out a raid of the home of Yaroslav Popovych - an Armstrong teammate - last November, they discovered text messages and e-mails that linked Armstrong's team to Ferrari as recently as 2009.
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The allegations dovetail with those made by another of Armstrong's former teammates, Floyd Landis. Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France win after testing positive for a banned supplement, said that in 2003, Swiss customs officials found drugs and syringes in Armstrong's luggage, but failed to stop him.
Another charge in the piece alleges that Armstrong tested over the testosterone-epitestosterone ratio limit three times between 1993 and 1996, but since the results could not be confirmed by a lab at UCLA, they were not reported to USA Cycling as positive.
Mark Fabiani, a spokesman for Armstrong, said the article was "old news from the same old discredited sources."
Armstrong, who won the Tour every year from 1999 to 2005, has strenuously denied ever taking performance-enhancing drugs.