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Drug-lab chief denies claims

London: The head of a drug-testing laboratory in Switzerland has denied giving banned cyclist Lance Armstrong “the key” to avoiding detection for the blood-boosting agent EPO.

Earlier, Travis Tygart, the head of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), claimed the director of the drug testing laboratory in Lausanne told him he provided Armstrong and his team manager, Johan Bruyneel information.

Martial Saugy, director of the laboratory in Lausanne, was responding to claims made by the head of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that he had met Armstrong in 2002 and showed him how to circumvent tests.

Saugy has previously admitted meeting Armstrong and his US Postal team manager Johan Bruyneel but called a news conference today where he insisted he did so at the request of the International Cycling Union (UCI).

Saugy said: “The answer to the question of whether I gave Lance Armstrong the key to circumvent EPO tests, is clearly no.

“I remain convinced that it (the meeting) was the right thing to do. It was not a mistake, nor naive as some have written.

“It would be paradoxical for the laboratory that reported the first case of EPO to give the key to circumvent tests.

“The fight against doping is our life's work.”

The claims by USADA chief Travis Tygart has raised further questions about the UCI's involvement in the scandal.

Concerns have previously been expressed about a ‘triangle’ — with the UCI accepting a $100,000 donation from Armstrong in 2002 and around that time the UCI gave the Lausanne laboratory free use of a blood analyser.