Ex-Armstrong teammate denies doping reference

August 3, 2011 - 8:45 AM

AMSTERDAM (AP) — A Dutch cyclist who was a teammate of Lance Armstrong has disputed a claim by a Dutch magazine that he admitted in an interview to taking the performance-enhancing drug EPO.

The magazine NUSport quoted Max van Heeswijk as answering "yes" when asked during an interview in June whether he had used the drug.

But the retired cyclist said the journalist misunderstood him, and that he was referring to vitamins he took in preparation for a race.

Van Heeswijk broke down in tears during a television interview Wednesday, claiming that he was being caught up in doping accusations when he was actually "one of the cleanest ones."

"Why would I admit to such a thing?" he told NOS television, saying he would have had nothing to gain.

Reporter Nando Boers said the conversation came during a long interview during which he told the cyclist that part would not be published.

Both Van Heeswijk and the magazine's editor say the cyclist destroyed the reporter's recording after the discussion. Van Heeswijk, who quit cycling three years ago, said he was angry that the interviewer only wanted to talk about doping.

"He rode in Armstrong's team and we wanted to know from Max all the stories that were going on about drug use in the team," said editor Richard Plugge.

According to Boers' report, he asked van Heeswijk if he had ever taken EPO.

"'Yes.' Silence fell. He looked at me deeply." When asked how often, the cyclist said a few times.

Van Heeswijk rode with the U.S. Postal Service team from 2003 to 2006.