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One of the French officials, meanwhile, said he does not know whether U.S. investigators have formally requested the samples.

“They can’t just take them with them. There’s all the preparation that needs to be done before that happens,” he said.

The French sports daily L’Equipe reported in 2005 that Armstrong’s samples from 1999 contained traces of the banned performance-enhancer EPO after being retested in 2004.

An investigator mandated by cycling’s international governing body later cleared Armstrong.

U.S. federal prosecutors have been looking at cheating in cycling for months, aided by Novitzky, who played a key role in the BALCO scandal that implicated athletes like Barry Bonds and Marion Jones and opened a window into the methods used to dope.

Armstrong became a more important figure in the probe this spring after Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for failing a doping test, dropped long-standing denials and acknowledged he used performance-enhancing drugs. In doing so, he accused Armstrong and others of systematic drug use.


Leicester reported from Paris and Lyon; Petrequin from Paris.