Two former Armstrong teammates unaware of doping wire reports

ROME -- Reaction in Europe to the latest doping revelations involving Lance Armstrong and his former U.S. Postal team was a mix of surprise and sorrow.

Two former teammates of Armstrong told The Associated Press on Friday that they never saw Armstrong or Tyler Hamilton use banned drugs.

In an interview with 60 Minutes aired Thursday on the CBS Evening News, Hamilton admitted that he doped and said Armstrong did as well.

Pascal Derame, a Frenchman who was on the 1999 Tour-winning team with Armstrong and Hamilton, said he wasn't in Armstrong's "inner circle."

"There was a team and then there was the inner circle. Tyler was in the inner circle," as was Frankie Andreu, Derame said. "[Armstrong] was a lot closer to Tyler than to us. ... Perhaps he didn't trust the French."

The 60 Minutes segment, which will air in its entirety on Sunday, also includes an interview with another former Armstrong teammate, Andreu.

Now one of the race directors at the Tour of California, Andreu told the show he took banned substances because lesser riders he believed were doping were passing him.

"I never saw [Armstrong] take anything," Derame said. "I cannot say what I didn't see."

Derame added that he mostly roomed with a Danish rider, Peter Meinert-Nielsen, and did not have much interaction with Armstrong even though they rode on the same Tour team.

"You can live together without living together," he said.

UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani said the governing body is aware of the latest allegations against Armstrong via the media but will not comment.

"Only Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Armstrong are in a position to comment," Carpani said.

Another former teammate of Armstrong and Hamilton, Steffen Kjaergaard of Norway, rode on U.S. Postal's Tour de France team in 2000 and 2001.

"I didn't feel any pressure of doing any prohibited thing to be stronger, to do doping," Kjaergaard said. "I didn't have any hints, 'You should do this. You should do that."'

Kjaergaard said that U.S. Postal conducted internal blood tests on him and others in the team "to make sure that the riders behave themselves."

Kjaergaard said that he did at times share rooms with Hamilton. But he said he never got any indication and never suspected that he was using banned drugs.

"I guess that if he or anybody else wants to do doping or other illegal things, they can hide it," Kjaergaard said.

Kjaergaard also said that in the wake of the confessions from Hamilton and, previously, Floyd Landis, he was now thinking, "I must have been damned naive. ... It's quite amazing to me."

Like other Europeans who rode for U.S. Postal, Kjaergaard suggested that one reason why he did not see any evidence of doping might be because he "was never close to the Americans."

"I was living on a regular basis in Norway and Belgium and they were living on a regular basis in Spain and the United States," he said. "I was never socializing with them or Lance."

Doping, he said, "in general was not a subject" discussed within the team.

Kjaergaard sympathized with Hamilton, saying "it must have been terrible" for him to have lied for so long about his own doping.

"He's not the first one on the team that confessed," he said. "I feel sorry for him. He must have been having a terrible time in the last 10 years."

Kjaergaard said the only pressure he felt was self-imposed pressure to ride well, to be selected as one of the nine Tour riders. He said he was struck when he moved from a small Danish team to U.S. Postal at how carefully the American team looked after its riders, for example giving them administrative help with paperwork.

"They treated me well," he said. "They really want to take good care of you. That was something new for me. ... This is American, very service-oriented."

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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