The nasty tug of war between the bosses of the international cycling union and the World Anti-Doping Agency over who leaked information to a French newspaper that accused Lance Armstrong of doping at the 1999 Tour de France claimed its first casualty Thursday.

That was any chance of a comeback by Armstrong.

Saying just days ago that this latest fight to clear his name had stoked his competitive desires, the seven-time Tour champion made clear Thursday he wasn’t interested in returning to the sport.

“Sitting here today, dealing with all this stuff again, knowing if I were to go back, there’s no way I could get a fair shake – on the roadside, in doping control, or the labs,” Armstrong said on a late-afternoon conference call.”I think it’s better that way,” he added a moment later. “I’m happy with the way my career went and ended and I’m not coming back.”

Armstrong and his handlers spent most of the remaining 45 minutes with reporters criticizing WADA chief Dick Pound.

It was Pound who set off another round of charges and counter-charges in the doping controversy earlier Thursday by accusing cycling union boss Hein Verbruggen of supplying documents used by L’Equipe, France’s leading sports daily, to charge that Armstrong used the blood-boosting drug EPO during his first tour win in 1999.

AP-ES-09-15-05 2100EDT


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