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Armstrong laments panel's decision to disregard 'shoddy' lab work

NEW YORK -- Lance Armstrong believes an American jury surely
would have ruled in favor of Floyd Landis, unlike the arbitrators
who found him guilty of doping.

The seven-time Tour de France winner lamented the consequences
of the panel disregarding "shoddy" lab work in his first public
comments about last month's decision to ban Landis for two years
and strip him of his 2006 Tour de France title.

"I didn't follow Floyd's case that much, but I will tell you,
if that's a jury trial in the United States of America, with eight
or 10 or 12 of our fellow citizens, you get off every time. Not
that you get off, but you're vindicated," Armstrong told The
Associated Press on Tuesday while promoting a new line of Nike
apparel that supports his Livestrong campaign to fight cancer.

Armstrong, who has endured doping accusations throughout his
career, has criticized the French lab where Landis' tests were
conducted.

Although the arbitrators faulted the lab's practices in their
ruling and warned that future errors could result in the dismissal
of a positive finding, the panel still upheld Landis' positive
doping test.

"When you are giving someone the death penalty, which they
essentially did, you cannot tolerate shoddy work, which they
clearly did," Armstrong said. "I don't understand that type of
rationale. I don't understand the verdict.

"It's tough for Floyd; it's tough for cycling. But at the same
time, it's also really tough and unfortunate for the fans of all
athletes. You never know when you're in that position, when an
athlete's in that position, and you want to make sure that
everything's done right."

Armstrong conceded that cycling is going through a "tough
period."

"But I think all of sport is going through a tough time," he
said. "You can look at cycling and say, 'Oh, they're all
cheaters.' But you know what? You can look at the New England
Patriots and say they're cheaters, too. You can look at the McLaren
Formula One team and say they're cheaters."

Last month, McLaren was fined $100 million for spying on rival
Ferrari. Meanwhile, the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick were
fined and the team lost a draft pick for trying to steal the New
York Jets' defensive signals.

"It's top-level sport," Armstrong said of cycling. "There's a
lot of money, a lot of pride, a lot of fame on the line. People are
going to cut corners. It's the job of the governing bodies and the
police and all these agencies to make sure what we're watching is
pure and clear."

Armstrong said he hopes the money generated by big-time sports
can help his foundation fight cancer. Since 2004, more than 70
million yellow Livestrong wristbands have been sold, and now Nike
and Armstrong are expanding the brand to other athletic apparel.

All profits from sales of the shirts, shorts, shoes and other
items featuring the familiar yellow and Livestrong logo will go to
the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Armstrong will wear the apparel, available for sale on Jan. 1,
while running next month's New York City Marathon.

His experience with the wristband phenomenon made Armstrong
confident people will continue to want to share the Livestrong
message.

"I'm most proud of the ability to build an army of people,"
Armstrong said. "People have to decide to go spend a dollar. They
have to decide to get on the Internet. They have to decide to wear
something. So 70 million people did that.

"A lot of them did it for a reason. Some people probably did it
because it was the cool thing to do or whatever. But for the most
part I think most people put on the yellow band because they cared
about the fight against cancer."