French ex-anti doping chief says President Sarkozy forced him out of job at Lance Armstrong's request

Former AFLD chief Pierre Bordry says then President Sarkozy forced him out of role at Armstrong's request

by Simon_MacMichael   November 19, 2012  

Au revoir Pierre tweet from Lance Armstrong

Pierre Bordry, former head of the French national doping agency, the AFLD, says that then President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, forced him out of his post in 2010 at the request of Lance Armstrong. Speaking to French news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, Bordry is now calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the politicians, doctors, businessmen and sport officials whom he says protected Armstrong.

The magazine also says that the UCI’s insistence that it should take responsibility for drug-testing at the 2009 Tour de France, relegating the AFLD to the role of spectator, was directly motivated by a desire to protect Armstrong in what would be his comeback in the race he won seven times between 1999 and 2005.

The claim that Sarkozy, acting at the request of Armstrong following a July 2010 dinner at the Elysée Palace, was behind Bordry’s departure from the AFLD – he left after the sports ministry slashed its budget – is not a new one, but the four-page article in the current edition of the weekly magazine headlined ‘Qui a couvert Lance Armstrong?’ (Who protected Lance Armstrong) goes into greater detail than has previously been the case.

Bordry, now aged 72, resigned from his position in September 2010 and while he gave no specific reasons for his departure at the time, during his five year tenure he regularly criticised the government for cuts to the agency’s funding and also clashed swords with Armstrong on numerous occasions after his return to the sport in 2009.

The Nouvel Observateur says that it was a self-projected aura of invincibility from Armstrong that led to his fall, starting with his decision to make his comeback in what the magazine described as a “Tour too much.”

It points out that Armstrong had powerful allies who had a vested interest in maintaining that he had won those seven Tour de France titles clean, starting with Sarkozy who saw him as an invaluable ambassador for tourism, down to race organisers ASO, keen to protect the image of what the article describes as its “cash cow,” as well as governing body the UCI.

However, Michel Rieu, a close ally of Bordry’s at the AFLD, where he is scientific advisor, told the magazine of Armstrong’s emergence from retirement: “This time, we were waiting to catch him out since we’d had very strong suspicions for a long time.”

In 2009, Bordry had warned Armstrong that the AFLD might seek to prevent him from taking part in his comeback Tour de France due to the Texan’s lack of co-operation with its officials during a random test conducted while he was training.

The AFLD was powerless to prevent the apparent warnings that Armstrong is said to have received during the run-up to the race and during the three weeks of the Tour itself, where he finished third behind Astana team mate Alberto Contador and Saxo Bank’s Andy Schleck.

The launch of a federal investigation in the United States regarding the alleged misuse of public funds at Armstrong’s former US Postal team, however, gave the AFLD the opportunity to co-operate with law enforcement officials on the other side of the Atlantic as well as the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which would continue to pursue him after the federal inquiry was shelved earlier this year.

By then, Bordry had long departed the AFLD, his fate said to have been sealed at a dinner attended by Armstrong at the Elysée Palace in July 2010, hosted by Sarkozy who had made little secret of his admiration for the cyclist.

“Armstrong told me about it himself,” Bordry explained to the Nouvel Observateur, saying “he boasted in front of me of having called for my head from the President. I asked for a denial from the Elysée, even a private one, but never received a reply. I was shocked.”

Instead, two months later, Bordry was told that the AFLD’s budget was being slashed by half, with the article clearly. Demoralised, he resigned, and the clear implication is that the cut in funding was authorised by Sarkozy in compliance with Armstrong’s wish that Bordry be removed.

Armstrong himself greeted news of Bordry’s departure from the agency in September 2010 with a three-word message on Twitter that read “Au Revoir Pierre.”

What the Texan didn’t realise was that despite cutting off its head, the AFLD would continue to play a role in the case being built against him, including providing evidence regarding his blood values at the 2009 Tour to US investigators.

While the UCI has so far refused to acknowledge that Armstrong doped following his comeback, by upholding USADA’s reasoned decision in full without challenging findings related to that period means that indirectly, it has vindicated Bordry and the AFLD’s persistence.

12 user comments

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Crikey, this just gets worse.

Shame Bordry didn't sign up to Twitter and go back to that tweet a few weeks ago just to reply "Au revoir Lance".

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3704 posts]
19th November 2012 - 17:19


Oh Lance, where is your dignity.

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1347 posts]
19th November 2012 - 17:55


Not having the AFLD doing the testing in 2009 was even at the time an obvious condition of his participation

onward ever onward

bikecellar's picture

posted by bikecellar [261 posts]
19th November 2012 - 18:20


More odious evidence about the UCI's complicity in protecting certain favoured riders..

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [422 posts]
19th November 2012 - 19:46


Seems to me that it was corruption that was the big problem - not drugs. If the scientists could have been left to do their jobs Armstrong and his mates at USPS would have been exposed earlier.

Velotastic !

Too many hills, but too little time.

badback's picture

posted by badback [297 posts]
19th November 2012 - 20:52


notfastenough wrote:
Crikey, this just gets worse.

Shame Bordry didn't sign up to Twitter and go back to that tweet a few weeks ago just to reply "Au revoir Lance".

It does doesn't it? Wonder which heads will fall next? That Sarkozy was meddling in this doesn't surprise me much.


posted by OldRidgeback [2551 posts]
19th November 2012 - 21:38


The more I see of Armstrong's attitude the more I dislike him.
What an obnoxious individual.
Oh, how I was deceived.

posted by Owen Rogers [32 posts]
19th November 2012 - 22:15


Owen Rogers wrote:
The more I see of Armstrong's attitude the more I dislike him.
What an obnoxious individual.
Oh, how I was deceived.

You weren't the only one. I think many people in the cycling community looked up to him. I took Wiggo's comments on board and I must say, I tend to trust his judgement as he wears his heart on his sleeve so to speak.


posted by OldRidgeback [2551 posts]
20th November 2012 - 10:22


Owen Rogers wrote:
The more I see of Armstrong's attitude the more I dislike him.
What an obnoxious individual.
Oh, how I was deceived.

Sadly, yes. And you were not the only one. Since 1999 it has been evident that Armstrong was doping (since the Sunday Times voiced its concerns). But the voices were shouted down by the media and the need for a new cycling hero.

It has been frustrating listening to Armstrong and his claims of innocence. The voices of dissent have only just managed to be heard and only because of the work of a few dedicated individuals (and no, I don't mean Hamilton).

While the French look into their case I hope the US will examine why their Federal case was dropped.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1574 posts]
21st November 2012 - 10:20


Owen - you and me both. I had hoped that the USADA had got it wrong, but it seems that this particular rabbit hole goes very deep indeed.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [295 posts]
21st November 2012 - 19:48


So, the head of the organisation that failed to detect any doping during Armstrong's 7 doped TdeF wins complains when the job is taken off them? Confused

posted by Tony [103 posts]
21st November 2012 - 20:53


Sorry to say, but this guy never took me in for a second. Not looking to grand myself up but the amount of abuse I have taken for maintaining my distrust has been unbelievable. He isn't exceptionable; I can just spot a psychopath.

posted by matthewuniverse [17 posts]
22nd November 2012 - 5:14