PARIS - France's anti-doping agency accused Lance Armstrongof violating its rules Thursday for not fully cooperating with adrug tester and says it could punish the seven-time Tour de Francechampion.
Armstrong has denied misbehaving during a test of his hair,urine and blood on March 17. No banned substances were found.
However, the agency, known as AFLD, said in a statement that thedoctor leading the tests maintains Armstrong "did not respect theobligation to remain under the direct and permanent observation"of the tester.
At question is a 20-minute delay when Armstrong says the testeragreed to let him shower while the American rider's assistantschecked the tester's credentials.
AFLD president Pierre Bordry noted that the statement does notsay that Armstrong is guilty of an infraction.
Messages left with Armstrong's spokesman for comment Thursdaywere not immediately returned.
AFLD said cycling's governing body has given its permission toopen disciplinary procedures against Armstrong, but did not saywhat the punishment could be.
Armstrong, who has had tense relations with France's anti-dopingauthorities for years, is hoping to win an eighth Tour title inJuly after having retired in 2005.
Bordry said the agency has not yet decided whether to seeksanctions against Armstrong. Asked if the agency is launchingdisciplinary proceedings, he said: "Not yet. We'll see."
Armstrong recently gave his own version of events, saying hewasn't sure of the identity of the drug tester.
"I did not try to evade or delay the testing process thatday," Armstrong said in a statement Tuesday.
Armstrong was training in Beaulieu-sur-Mer in southern Francewhen the test was conducted. Armstrong said he had returned from aride to find the tester at his house, identifying himself as arepresentative of a French lab.