“I was not “Motoman” and did not supply Lance Armstrong with EPO,” Frenchman Philippe Maire, previously identified as the shamed cyclists’ courier, said in an exclusive interview.
In last Thursday night’s television confessional, Armstrong conceded the notorious “Motoman” story was indeed true; that a rider on a moped would scoot around France during the 1999 Tour and deliver drugs to Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service team-mates under the cover of darkness.
It was Armstrong’s former friend Tyler Hamilton who first to blow the whistle on “Motoman,” who he said delivered the banned blood-boosting drug EPO, codenamed “Edgar”, during races to ensure Armstrong and no team member could be caught out with it in their possession.
Despite being thrust back into the international spotlight as a result of Armstrong’s mea culpa — an interview that was watched by 4.3 million people — Maire said he had no ill feeling toward the former Tour de France winner, whom he met when he was in his early twenties.
The pair hasn’t had contact for a number of years, he insisted.
“I still have a lot of respect for him the people that come to my store and work here do as well – we cannot taint his legacy, he is still a human being,” said Maire, who owns a bike shop near Nice on the Côte d’Azur.
“I still see Lance Armstrong the same way. We have a saying in France, ‘We can’t make a race horse out of a donkey’.”
He said he remembers Armstrong, 41, as being “professional, serious, normal and ambitious.”
In the 202 pages of damning evidence against Armstrong compiled by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), it was claimed “Motoman” delivered EPO in syringes directly to the riders.
“His (Motoman) qualities were to be tested because he was also to play the role of drug trafficker,” said the USADA report.
“His role was to follow the Tour on his motorcycle and deliver EPO to “Pepe” (Pepe Marti), officially the trainer but also known by the riders as “the courier”.
In The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups and Winning at All Costs, Hamilton detailed how the doping conspiracy was orchestrated:
We were standing in Lance’s kitchen when he lined out the plan: he would pay Philippe to follow the Tour on his motorcycle, carrying a thermos full of EPO and a prepaid cell phone.
When we needed Edgar (EPO), Philippe would zip through the Tour’s traffic and make a drop-off.
Simple. Quick — in and out. No risk. To be discreet, Philippe would be supplying only the climbers, the ones who needed it most and would provide the biggest bang for the buck: Lance, Kevin Livingston, and me. Los Amigos del Edgar.
From that moment on, Philippe wasn’t Philippe the handyman anymore. Lance, Kevin, and I called him Motoman.
“Look, Lance never admitted taking drugs to me,” Maire told Celebuzz.
“I do not know why Lance chose now to say that he was doping himself – maybe the pressure made him breakdown or the large amounts of money spent in law suits led him to talk.
“It is too bad that all the money spent in these lawsuits was not used to fight against doping and to prevent young amateurs and professionals from using it.”
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