Lance Armstrong has dismissed claims by French newspaper Le Monde that he admitted taking banned drugs, including erythropoietin (EPO), before begining his cancer treatment in 1996.

In a statement, the 34-year-old American blasted the accusations by former team mate Frankie Andreu and his wife Betsy made during the Texas arbitration case between Armstrong and insurance company SCA Promotions regarding his 2004 Tour de France bonus and criticised Le Monde for printing them.

For the first time Armstrong revealed that he won the battle for the $5 million bonus and was also awarded a $2.5 million penalty.He also suggested that the court documents and conversations published by Le Monde may have been leaked by WADA chief Dick Pound.

Below is the full statement issued by Lance Armstrong.

“I recently won a major arbitration, defeating allegations of
performance enhancing drugs, after a three week trial. Several
accusations made the subject of prior rumors were fully and finally
considered by an impartial panel which heard many witnesses under oath.
After years of litigation and three weeks of trial, and ” having
considered the evidence and testimony” the panel ordered the insurance
company to pay, not the $5mm owed, but that $5mm and an additional
$2.5mm, which confirms the baseless nature of the accusations. The
allegations were rejected. It’s over. We won. They lost. I was yet
again completely vindicated.?

?After having been illegally provided selective items from that trial,
and on the eve of the 2006 Tour de France, a French newspaper again
publishes stale, unfounded and untrue allegations about me. Any
assertion that drug-related issues were not fully and finally considered
is false; had the trial concerned only whether the money was owed
because of my 2004 victory, the proceedings would have consumed less
than an hour.?

?The latest story, which alleges an admission of using performance
enhancing drugs in a hospital in 1996, is today as absurd and untrue as
when it was first circulated years ago. It never happened. The
hospital allegation was made against me during a trial before three
highly astute and respected arbitrators by an insurance company as its
basis for not paying a 5mm bonus (and to recover $4.5mm paid for 2002
and 2003 bonuses) for winning the 2004 Tour de France. Not only did I
win this trial, but the company was ordered to pay the $5mm plus an
additional $2.5 mm in penalty.?

?The event reported in France never happened and the evidence presented to the panel proved it never happened. The two persons relied upon by the French newspaper had a different story than the other 8 people in the room. Mr. and Mrs. Andreu stated that they left the room right after the statement, could remember no other questions asked before or after, no details of who I was allegedly talking to, whether men or women, whether doctors or residents, or why I would have been asked this information in front of 10 people, including my mother, in a TV room watching the Dallas Cowboys play football on a Sunday afternoon. By that Sunday, I had been in the hospital 11 days, had given numerous medical histories, previously undergone a regimen of intensive chemotherapy, and undergone extensive brain surgery on the prior
Thursday. Ms. Andreu confirmed her ignorance of steroids prescribed as part of my post-operative treatment and of EPO also included in my required post-operative regimen, subjects which could conceivable arisen under the circumstances.?

?In addition to sworn testimony to the contrary by others present, the
panel (and the insurance company) were provided certified copies of all
medical records by the Indiana cancer hospital. While any suggestion
that medical professionals did not take my medical history until three
days after conducting extensive brain surgery is, on its face,
preposterous, it is inconceivable that the records, which contain a
description of every interaction with me, would not reflect such a
critical response. There is no suggestion of either such a question or
response in over 20 medical histories recorded among the 280 pages of
records compiled during my hospital stay. My doctor, one of the premier
cancer specialists in the country, also testified no such statement was
made by me to him and a statement made to another would have to appear in the records. It’s not there because it never happened.?

?I respected the panel’s unconditional prohibition against providing any
documents or testimony to others, and made no mention of this complete
victory. Others did not, as selected items have apparently been
recently released to the press. We have instituted proceedings to
determine who did so; ironically, but predictably, our investigation to
date has revealed that the only person to whom documents have been
provided by any trial participant is Richard Pound of WADA. It is
indeed coincidental that the documents provided to the press surfaced
shortly after the independent investigator from the UCI released his
report which exonerated me and was sharply critical of Mr. Pound’s
conduct.?

?My life and all my energy are devoted to the cure and treatment of
cancer and cancer survivors. During my professional cycling career,
particularly during its last seven years, I have had to repeatedly
address this issue, which I have willingly done. Further discussion by
me serves no purpose other than to dignify accusations which have been
repeatedly investigated and rejected by every body, tribunal and court
to consider them. I will not further dignify them, although I have
authorized my legal representatives to provide responsive documents when appropriate.”