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ARMSTRONG ATTORNEYS DENY EX-ASSISTANT'S ALLEGATIONS

With speculation building that Lance Armstrong will retire, the six-time Tour de France champion finds himself facing another doping allegation.

On Thursday, attorneys for Armstrong denied allegations made by a former personal assistant that he found a steroid in Armstrong's Spanish apartment early last year.

"It's a shakedown and it has been from the very beginning," Armstrong's attorney Timothy Herman said.

Mike Anderson, who worked for Armstrong for about two years, has been in a legal fight with the cycling great over alleged promises Armstrong made to help him start a bike shop. He made his claim of a banned substance in a brief filed in state district court.

Herman called the allegation false.

"We are not going to be blackmailed or pay extortion money to hide something that isn't true," Herman said.

Armstrong has pledged to ride for a seventh Tour de France title this year, but his comments to Italian media this week fueled speculation it would be his last.

"Four more months and it's over," he told Gazzetta dello Sport, the Italian newspaper reported Thursday. "I miss my kids and all the pressure I have on me is taking its toll."

Armstrong has scheduled a news conference April 18 before the Tour of Georgia. His new two-year contract to race for the Discovery Channel team requires he race just one more Tour de France.

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