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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Seven Deadly Sins: Book Review

Seven Deadly Sins, David Walsh, Atria Books, 2012.

David Walsh characterizes himself as a "troll," who expectorated into the soup of cycling expectations of reform, which was being promoted after the disastrous fallout of the Festina Affair during the 1998 Tour de France.  During the 1998 Tour de France, in an overreaction to what was perceived as blatant performance enhancing drug abuse, team hotels were raided by the police, the riders protested these raids by plucking their bibs off each other, laying down their bikes refusing to ride, and teams packed up and exited the race.  The 1999 Tour de France was proclaimed by Jean-Marie LeBlanc as the "Tour of Renewal," and Mr. LeBlanc promised that the peloton would be riding at a slower pace.  Not only had the peoloton learned their lesson about dope, but the 1999 Tour de France had an additional attraction, Lance Armstrong, a man who overcame long odds of survival after fighting an aggressive form of testicular cancer, was back on the bike and ready to compete. Astonishing enough the miracle return of Lance Armstrong could not have been choreographed better, Lance Armstrong won the prologue!  Cycling had not seen anything more dramatic since Greg LeMond made his miracle comeback after being shot by his cousin, by winning the 1989 and 1990 Tours. Incredibly, Lance Armstrong's performance during the 1999 Tour de France, considering his past race results when riding for Motorola, shocked anyone who was paying attention, and David Walsh suspected foul play.  There were other reasons to be concerned.  The tempo of the 1999 Tour de France was faster than the pace of the 1998 Tour, not slower.  Also, during the 1999 Tour de France Lance Armstrong tested positive for a corticosteriod that was on the prohibited list.  Lance Armstrong claimed that he had a medical certificate, a prescription from his doctor to treat saddle sores, before the Tour started.  Of course, the prescription was written and backdated after the positive test, a common practice.  During the Festina affair trial in Lille France, "Laurent Brochard, a Festina rider, told how he won the World Championship road race in 1997, subsequently tested positive but an official from the UCI informed his team manager that a backdated medical certificate would get him off." P.109.  David Walsh suggests that the UCI knew of and approved a backdated medical certificate for Lance Armstrong during the 1999 Tour de France.  In addition, there was the statements of Christophe Bassons, who insisted that that the peloton was still abusing performance enhancing drugs, and who was "bullied" out of the race by Lance Armstrong who insisted that his statements were "damaging the sport."

David Walsh states his case most succinctly:

"We knew that the '99 Tour de France was ushering in the reign of a great pretender but were powerless to do much about it.  It wasn't just the feeling that Armstrong had doped and won, what most rankled was the confederacy of cheerleaders which protected him: the UCI bosses who knew about the uniformly elevated haematocrit values, especially in the U.S. Postal team, and decided that was a part of the story best kept secret, the journalists who saw poor Christophe Bassons being bullied out of the race and thought, 'That's okay, he's only a small rider'; and the Tour de France organizer who decreed that Armstrong had 'saved' the Tour." P.86.
David Walsh insists that if Jean-Marie LeBlanc and the UCI would have had a spine the the reign of the pretender could have been nipped in the bud.  Instead the UCI shirked their responsibility, so it became an arduous process of the few responsible journalists who refused to imbibe the Lance Armstrong myth, to bring down the greatest fraud in cycling history with investigatory journalism; trolls who would expectorate in the soup, much to the disdain of the suckers.

Michele Ferrari: Boom Goes the Dynamite!

1994 Fleche Wallonne Classic, three Gewiss riders do an impossible breakaway in a classic race and all three make the podium.  Moreno Argentin, first. Giorgia Furlan, second. Evgeni Berzin, third.  Team Gewiss had hired a suspected blood doping doctor Michele Ferrari and the results were spectacular!  A blood boosting drug recombinant erythropoietin was suspected as the causal factor in the Team Gewiss success.  As everyone knows, Michele Ferrari also had a nasty reputation: he stated after the race that recombinant erythropoietin was no more dangerous than drinking ten liters of orange juice.

In 2001 David Walsh, with the help of the carabinieri, linked Lance Armstrong to Michele Ferrari: the result was an investigatory story: Saddled With Suspicion.  In a panic Lance Armstrong attempted to brunt the impact of the David Walsh story by doing an end run by inviting La Gazetta dello Sport writer Pier Bergonzi to an interview.  In the interview with Pier Bergonzi, Lance Armstrong reportedly asked, 'you have not asked me about Michele Ferrari.'  Surprised, Pier Bergonze asked, Should I have?  Lance Armstrong replied:  'He and I are working together, because we're going to make an attack on the World Hour Record.' PP.151-152.  David Walsh sarcastically comments that he knew there would never be any attempt by Lance Armstrong to to beat the World Hour Record, and there never was.  The Pier Bergonzi interview backfired; people were wondering "why a rider who says he is clean and opposed to doping would work with a doctor who has the dirtiest reputation in cycling and is about to go on trial for doping professional riders?" P.166.  The David Walsh story generated international headlines, was the magic man, Lance Armstrong really riding clean or was he Michele Ferrari's Frankenstein doped fueled monster?

Lance Armstrong's Iron Shield Begins To Crumble!

Then rumors began to surface from unexpected places about doping going on at U.S. Postal.  Greg LeMond's old mechanic Julien De Vriese, who was also Lance Armstrong's mechanic, hinted that there was a culture of 'secrecy' at U.S. Postal that was masking a doping program. P.169.  Then there was the notorious telephone call between Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong.  The text of the conversation was provided by Greg LeMond, [Lance Armstrong claims that Greg LeMond was intoxicated from alcohol at the time of the conversation, and that Greg LeMond was offended that Lance Armstrong had not invited him to attend the Ride of the Roses, and that for most of the conversation Greg LeMond berated Lance Armstrong in a drunken hysterical rage.  Alas: will we ever know the truth here?]  Nevertheless:  Greg LeMond's version deserves some comment.

Armstrong to LeMond: "Well your comeback in eighty-nine was so spectacular.  Mine was a miracle, yours was a miracle, you couldn't have been as strong as you were in eighty-nine without EPO."
 LeMond: "It is not because of EPO that I won the Tour-my haematocrit was never more that forty-five-because I had a VO2 max of ninety-five. Yours was eighty two.  Tell me one person who said I did EPO?"
Armstrong: "Everyone knows it."
LeMond: "Are you threatening me?"
Armstrong: "If you want to throw stones, I will throw stones."
LeMond: "So you are threatening me?  Listen, Lance.  I know a lot about physiology; no amount of training can transform an athlete with an VO2 max of eighty-two into one with a VO2 max of nine-five, and you have ridden faster than I did."
Armstrong: "I could find at least ten people who would say you did EPO.  Ten people would come forward."
LeMond: "That's impossible.  I know I never did that.  Nobody can say I have.  If I had taken EPO, my haematocrit value would have exceeded forty-five.  It never did.  I could produce all my blood parameters to prove my haematocrit level never rose above forty-five.  And if I have this accusation leveled against me, I will know it came from you."
Then Greg LeMond plays his ace in the hole card: "What Michele Ferrari did in the nineties changed riders." PP.172-173.

Greg LeMond's logic is perfect.  Lance Armstrong admitted to using EPO!  Lance Armstrong threatened Greg LeMond!  Lance Armstrong had a lower VO2 max so he couldn't have outpaced Greg LeMond!  Greg LeMond could have never have used EPO because his haematocrit level never exceeded forty-five!  EPO was not used in the peloton before 1991, not 1990, but 1991!  Well now.  Does the fact that Greg LeMond's haematocrit level never exceeded forty-five proof  that Greg LeMond never used EPO?  Nonsense!  The UCI used to tip the riders off during Greg LeMond's reign that the vampires were on the way!  A simple saline solution dilutes haematocrit levels.  Haematocrit levels decline under strenuous exercise like riding in the Tour de France.  Then there is this statement Floyd Landis made in a letter to the UCI and USA Cycling, 6 May 2010, that is very pertinent: Floyd Landis was selected as a rider to support Roberto Heras during the Vuelta de Espana:  Floyd Landis: "EPO, EPREX by brand and it came in six pre-measured syringes.  I used it intravenously for several weeks before the next blood draw and had no problems with the tests during the Vuelta.  Again during the Vuelta we were given Andriol and blood transfusions by the team doctor and had no problems with any testing!" P. 360.  Microdosing EPO intravenously, if done properly will never raise your haematocrit level above forty-five!  What do think of that Greg Lemond?  Also, according to The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA): 
While the fight against stimulants and steroids was producing results, the main front in the anti-doping war was rapidly shifting to blood doping. "Blood boosting," removal and subsequent re-infusion of the athlete's blood in order to increase the level of oxygen-carrying haemoglobin, has been practiced since the 1970s. The IOC banned blood doping as a method in 1986.
Other ways of increasing the level of haemoglobin were being tried, however. One of these was erythropoietin (EPO). EPO was included in the IOC's list of prohibited substances in 1990, however the fight against EPO was long hampered by the lack of a reliable testing method. An EPO detection test (approved by WADA) was first implemented at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.
 Thus: EPO was available in 1990, not 1991, and who is to say that the entire peloton was not microdosing EPO and re-infusing their own blood at the same time?  EPO could not be detected at the time.  Greg LeMond uses the same old trite arguments, I was below threshold, therefore, I am innocent.  Lance Armstrong used the exact same argument, I was tested 2000 times, there was never a positive test.  But Greg LeMond goes further:  he says in a single year, in the 1991 Tour that the peloton went from clean to doped on EPO, that Greg LeMond finished seventh in the 1991 Tour de France @13 minutes 13 seconds behind Miguel Indurain because of EPO, because it is obvious that Greg LeMond had a superior VO2 max, so Miguel Indurain could have never outpaced him without EPO.  This is incredibly excellent logic except that during the EPO era, which apparently included the 1991 Tour de France, all of the riders in the top ten were considered to be using performance enhancing drugs, and this would include of all people Greg LeMond!

So here is a perfect example of who twisted logic can skew the data. I have warned everyone about the fallacy of trying to fail an athlete without concrete proof, on the bases of ancedotal or longitudinal evidence that is based upon probabilities for years to no avail, and how careers of athletes should not be terminated without concrete proof that a performance enhancing substance is present in the sample.  But who cares?  Non-analytical positives are all the rage these days.

Then, of course, there is Lance Armstrong's former Motorola teammate Stephen Swart who claimed that Lance Armstrong and the Motorola team were using EPO in 1995.  Stephen Swart claimed that the team had a portable blood centrifuge and that the team routinely measured their haematocrit in the field and that Lance Armstrong's scored consistently above 50%.  Stephen Swart also claims that he went to a Switzerland pharmacy and purchased EPO, which he used in the 1995 Tour de Suisse.  Stephen Swart also claims that his EPO supply ran out during the prologue of the 1995 Tour de France and that he discovered that the drug did nothing to improve his performance.  David Walsh claims that Stephen Swart used EPO during this period to comply with Lance Armstrong's philosophy that "if you are not doping, then you are not a team player." P.254.

Then there is Emma O' Reilly, former U.S. Postal Service soigneur, and personal masseuse for Lance Armstrong during the 1999 Tour de France who made a series of startling statements.  Emma O' Reilly claimed that she say the doctor backdate the medical prescription for Lance Armstrong's saddle sores that she claims never existed.  Emma O' Reilly also stated that she disposed of used syringes that the team had been placed in a crushed Coke can.  Emma O' Reilly also stated that she had been employed as a 'drug mule,' claiming that she picked up a shipment of testosterone for George Hincapie.  Emma O' Reilly also claims that she used some cosmetics to hide needle marks when Lance Armstrong reported for his pre-race physical for the 1999 Tour de France, and a litany of other egregious outrages. P.253.

Then there is Betsy Andreu and the Indiana University Hospital statement that Lance Armstrong allegedly made to a group of doctors who were inquiring into his medical history.  The doctors asked Lance Armstrong if he had taken any performance enhancing drugs, and Armstrong, according to Betsy Andreu  stated that he had used performance enhancing drugs.  There is a great deal of inconsistency with this account, however.  Stephanie McIlvain, who worked for Oakley, testified under oath at the Sports Contests Associates arbitration that she did not hear Lance Armstrong make any admission to using performance enhancing drugs although she was in the room at the time. P.314-315.  Although in a taped conversation with Greg LeMond, Sethanie McIlvain claimed that she heard Lance Armstrong mention former drug use.  Also, Lance Armstrong's former girl friend Lisa Shiels, when asked if she heard Lance Armstrong admit to drug use claims that she heard nothing of the sort although she was present in the room at the time. P.316.  I wonder if Greg LeMond and Betsy Andreu, "the crazed bitch" didn't employ intimidation tactics on Stephanie McIlvain to change her recollection.  This episode gets ever more bizarre:
"Dr. Craig Nichols, one of the doctors who had supervised Lance Armstrong's case and who was now chief of haematology, oncology at Oregon Health and Science University, said in a sworn affidavit that he had 'no recollection' of any statement by Lance Armstrong while in treatment confessing to the use of performance enhancing drugs.  He added: 'Lance Armstrong never admitted, suggested or indicated that he has ever taken performance enhancing drugs.'" P.332.
However, in an ironic twist:
"On 27 October, Indiana University announced that the Lance Armstrong Foundation had funded a 1.5 million endowed chair in oncology.  Craig Nicols affidavit was signed on 8 December." P.332.
 The implication, of course, was that Lance Armstrong bribed the oncology department, payola for silence.  Lance Armstrong declaimed a furious response:
"It was a million and a half dollars, and I understand that's a lot of money.  But to suggest that I funded that chair to get an affidavit or to get some clean medical records or some sanitised records is completely ridiculous." P.332.
Floyd Landis: Letter to the the UCI and USA Cycling.  The Final Nail in the Coffin.

The come back of Lance Armstrong to the Tour de France in 2009 infuriated Floyd Landis.  Marooned on the Ouch team in the continental United States Floyd Landis wanted nothing more than to return to the European UCI Pro Tour team circuit.  Abandoned and unable to secure a contract Floyd Landis watched the doper and chief Lance Armstrong return in third place to the podium, while he was forced to compete in the Tour of Utah.  When Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel formed Team Radio Shack, Floyd Landis swallowed his pride and phoned Johan Bruyneel begging for a position on the team.  Johan Bruyneel sarcastically replied that there was no position available because Floyd Landis was "radioactive," and a public relations nightmare.  Thus was penned the immortal letter that would end history's "greatest sporting fraud."  The 2000 Tour de Suisse positive test for EPO was mentioned:
"He [Lance Armstrong] later, while winning the Tour de Suisse, the month before the Tour de France, tested positive for EPO, at which point he [Lance Armstrong] and Mr. Bruyneel flew to the UCI headquarters and made a financial agreement with Mr. Verbruggen to keep the positive test hidden." P.357.
There is a comical exchange between Lance Armstrong and Jeff Tillotson, in Lance Armstrong's SCA deposition where Jeff Tillotson tries to link a 25,000 donation given to the UCI to suppress the positive test, a bribe to Hein Verbruggen.  Of course, Lance Armstrong skates around the issue best he can while looking like a total fool, like he can't even remember what the donation was for, or if it was related to any event, etc.  At one point Jeff Tillotson asks Lance Armstrong: "Why the UCI?  I mean, why give money to the UCI?  Always good for a laugh, giving money to the UCI.

But back to Mr. Landis;
"I had learned at this point how to do most of the transfusion technicals and other things on my own, so I hired Allen Lim as my assistant to help with details and logistics.  He [Allen Lim] helped Levi Leipheimer and me prepare the transfusions for Levi and me and made sure they were kept at proper temperature." P.363.

Allen "stinking" Lim.  The walking calculator who followed Floyd Landis around in Spain during his training rides, the man who helped Floyd Landis reach the Michele Ferrari magic plateau of six watts per kilogram, the power output needed to win the Tour de France, a machine, calculating the proper blood transfusions for Floyd Landis and Levi Leipheimer.  Where is Allen Lim today, still designing ice filled time trial jerseys?  Allen Lim is another example of people who should be banned from cycling.  How does a sport maintain a set of ethical principals with a person like Allen Lim permitted to be employed by cycling teams after his involvement in scheduling doping products for riders?

Hell I am out of time and the library is closing.  Maybe I will update this post, maybe not.  Anyhow, go read the book.  You are bound to learn something new if you are a neophyte doping researcher, and the book does tie up allot of lose ends.  I give Seven Deadly Sins my highest rating.

Conclusion:

We all know how the episode ended.  Not to be outdone by Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton raced to the airwaves and did a incoherently manic interview on 60 Minutes. The U.S. government was not far behind; Jeff Novitzky launched a criminal probe trying to link the expenditure of U.S. Postal Service money to drug trafficking; the subpoena mill started churning, ex-teammates of Lance Armstrong were whisked off the streets, and held for affidavits and depositions.  Grand Jury testimony was heard.  Although the criminal probe was dropped, the United States Anti-Doping Agency quickly launched an investigation which terminated with civil complaints against several ex-members of the U.S. Postal Service team, including Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel.  Michele Ferrari "doctor blood" was also charged with facilitating the use of performance enhancing drugs along with several ex-U.S. Postal Service doctors who were accused of aiding riders to dope.  After a legal challenge by Lance Armstrong in U.S. Federal Court over jurisdictional issues: [Lance Armstrong insisted that his license came under the jurisdiction of the UCI, therefore the USADA complaint should be invalidated by the court; a plea which U.S. District Court Judge Sam Spears dismissed as facetious.]  In an amended Lance Armstrong court challenge contesting the validity of the arbitration process as an unfair kangaroo "star chamber" proceeding, Judge Sam Spears dismissed Lance Armstrong's argument ruling that the current arbitration structure provided adequate due process protections.  After this ruling, Lance Armstrong, in a surprise move, announced that he would not contest the USADA charges in arbitration.  There exists a stipulation in the USADA bylaws states that if an athlete decides to wave the arbitration process then USADA is free to impose an award; including a lifetime ban, if the ban is agreed to by the UCI and WADA.  Travis Tygart imposed a lifetime ban on Lance Armstrong and Michele Ferrari both of whom waived arbitration, and Pat McQuaid announced that the UCI would not contest the Reasoned Decision, which was a compilation of evidence and testimony gathered by USADA as the bases of their complaint.  The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) soon followed suit.  Then, of course, there was the Oprah confession which ended all doubts of everyone for all time and proves that Lance Armstrong was nothing more than a joke.  Thus ended the "greatest fraud in doping history", and served as a vindication for investigatory journalists like David Walsh who from the start, stated that the Lance Armstrong was Griska Otrepyev; the false Dmitri; or the pretender to the throne.  In a curious aside, Griska Oterpyev was assassinated after one year of rule, his body was cremated, and his ashes were fired out of a cannon.  Lance Armstrong was merely burned in effigy, the only thing missing was the cannon!

David Walsh makes several references to LA Confidential, but since I have not read the book I will not comment here.  But I have read From Lance to Landis!  No comment here either, make of it what you will.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

2014 Tour de France: Dope Free!

Yea, I had to emerge from my cave, cause it is time for the Tour de France, all reformed from the chronic days of dope, dope, dope!  Sure enough the riders will go through the sham physical to measure their fitness levels, three thousand miles of hammering throughout state of France with variable weather and terrain features is no joke!  It would be great if the physicals also collected urine from the entire peloton and farmed out to those infallible WADA laboratories for examination, prior to the grand depart, then there would not be so many rest day surprises. There always seems to be somebody who tests positive during a rest day test, much to the chagrin of the teams who end up packing their bags for an unceremonious exit.

Not to worry, though.  The UCI has swept the garbage out the door, the days of bribery and cover-ups has  gone through a state of metamorphoses.  The old UCI was best compared to rats emerging from a sewer.  But behold, the new and improved UCI is now praised as a shining beacon of truth, straightforwardness, and transparency!  The UCI mantra is zero tolerance and eternal vigilance.  Don't attempt to dope!  Vampires are waiting, and if we don't detect you with a urine or blood sample, there is always the UCI Biological Passport waiting in the wings; and as everyone knows, the UCI Biological Passport is superior in all aspects to positive tests.  Trends and tendencies takes precedence over solid, indisputable evidence.  If you don't believe me go ask USADA, who claims that Lance Armstrong's 2009 and 2010 longitudinal data prove that he used performance enhancing substances during those years.  Of course, Lance Armstrong claims that he used nothing post 2005, but who you going to believe, Lance Armstrong or the UCI Biological passport?

So watch out Christopher Froome and Team Sky, we are ready to "pounce" on you if we detect the slightest variation in your physiology; not that we suspect you and your team of doping!  Three years of dominance by the same team in the Tour de France seems impossible without artificial aid of pharmaceutical origin; but maybe I am being cynical, being burned and lied to by my past heroes time and again.  There is nothing worse than watching a breathtaking performance on the bike by a professional rider in a physically demanding race, mesmerized, transfixed with attention, heart pounding, zealously applauding your hero as he drops the group at a fatal moment up some beyond category col; the deciding moment: only to have the whole performance exposed as a charade fourteen years later.  These episodes are devastating to pure cycling fanaticism, and are perhaps not singular, either.  But they certainly don't catch every Tour de France champion who used performance enhancing drugs, or do they desire to expend the effort to investigate every case, the trail does grow cold after years of inactivity, cold cases do prove hard to solve, but there is plenty of antecedental evidence available if one were inclined to play the sleuth.

After all doping didn't start in 1999 and end in 2010, give me a break!  Ever done leg breaking intervals up a steep incline in a large gear in fifty degree Celsius heat?  Sweat streams off your face in buckets, you feel like you are going to die.  Try doing that for four straight hours over a hundred hard mountain miles; category three, two, one, HC, cols: how do those professional riders recover from such demanding physical tasks without taking a daily saline solution to re-hydrate?  How do these riders replenish their glucose stores in one day after such demanding physical tasks?  Pasta and meat chunks?  The feed zone?

Mitochondria works best with oxygen, baby!  What's the best way to provide oxygen to the mitochondria?  A blood transfusion with your own stored blood.  You reduce the risk of infection and the vampires can't detect a thing.  By the way, blood transfusions used during the Tour de France didn't start in 1999 and end in 2010!

So get ready to play the sleuth.  We may not have justice for past crimes that will never be punished, but we sure can "pounce" on the crimes that have yet to be committed.
              

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Every Second Counts: Book Review

Every Second Counts, Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins, Broadway Books, 2003.

Lance-o-phobes might consider Every Second Counts as a masterpiece of dissimulation.  This estimation would be too simplistic, however.  It is true that Lance Armstrong does a masterful job of denial of doping, he spins a mighty yarn.  Nevertheless, the book is not all about the dope, Lance Armstrong did suffer from a virulent form of invasive testicular cancer that metastasised into his lungs and brain.  Mr. Armstrong was subjected to traumatic chemotherapy, surgeries, and radiation treatments.  Against all odds, Mr. Armstrong fought and survived cancer.  I think he created the Lance Armstrong Foundation without mercenary motives: a place where cancer survivors could meet, share experiences, and be consoled by other cancer survivors.  In this endeavor, in spite of the personal post doping backlash Mr. Armstrong experienced after the Reasoned Decision, and the Oprah confession, have, nevertheless, done allot of people allot of good.  The Lance Armstrong Foundation still exists even if Mr. Armstrong is no longer a part of the team, and as a foundation, continues to help people who suffer from an insidious disease.

Cancer awareness and education is a good thing, after all, we all know someone who suffered from cancer.  My mother had breast cancer, she is a survivor.  A friend of mine, Collin, was diagnosed with stage IV non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  I was his roommate.  He was a gifted college varsity athlete.  He needed a bone marrow transplant: his stem cells were harvested, his immune system was killed, he was given radiation and chemotherapy treatments.  His stem cells were re-infused.  One fine day while in the University of Utah hospital, his lungs began to cleave cells, he spent days expectorating blood.  His condition deteriorated to the point that he was placed on "death watch." But Collin had the will to live and the man beat all odds, his lungs healed and he was released from the hospital, his cancer in remission.  Then began the after effects.  Collin injected EPO to raise his red blood cell count.  There was little progress: it was determined that Collin had a damaged spleen that was cannibalizing his red blood cells, so his spleen was surgically removed.  Then shingles appeared.  Then the bone in his hips suffered severe atrophy; he received bilateral artificial hip replacements.  Then he began to experience cognitive problems with language and reasoning.  Then, unexpectedly, his cancer returned.  After the L'AlpeD'Huez stage during the 2001 Tour de France, the Salt Lake Tribune published a photograph of Lance Armstrong flexing his biceps, over the caption "King of the Hills."  I cut out the photograph and glued it to the wall in the garage where I used to work on my bikes.  Collin declared Lance Armstrong to he his favorite athlete.  Mr. Armstrong meant a great deal to both of us in those days.  Collin died one night in a convalescence home, from a ruptured artery.  Thus ended a valiant battle of a man who's life was terminated in such a sadistic fashion by such a callous foe: cancer.  I have empathy with cancer patients and survivors; I have seen suffering first hand. I commend the intrepid research being done at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, and at other institutions that are committed to finally ending cancer as a disease once and for all.  I hope a cure is discovered soon, that extends to all cancer types.  In the meantime, never give up hope, ever.

Every Second Counts is a snapshot of happier days for Lance Armstrong, he was still married to Kristin Richard, he was focused on raising his son Luke, he was ecstatic about the birth of his twin daughters, Grace Elizabeth and Isabelle Rose.  Mr Armstrong was a loving husband and father...for the time being.  Later, of course, he was divorced from "Kik," she lived in Austin, Texas with the children while Lance Armstrong lived in Girona, Spain, in his castle flat, with his live in girl friend Sheyrl Crow; like a run amok playboy.  Not so family focused then, of course.  Later there would be other women with whom Mr. Armstrong would sire children.  The later behavior of Lance Armstrong would tend to reinforce the opinion of the Lance-o-phobes, that Lance Armstrong is nothing more than a narcissistic selfish hedonistic psychopath.

A comment on the rough treatment that Sally Jenkins received from the press after she attempted to support Lance Armstrong after the USADA allegations surfaced.  You paragons of virtues who live in glass houses should refrain from casting stones, for if you should stumble, the same fate awaits you.  Leave the poor woman alone.

Lance Armstrong Quotes

"It was not hard to feel that I'd been singled out because I was successful and American."
"Anyone who thought I would go through four cycles of chemo just to risk my life by taking EPO was crazy.  It was one thing to seek to maximize performance, or explore a pharmacological grey zone.  It was another to court death."
"Luke's name is Armstrong and people know that name, and when he goes to school I don't want them to say, 'oh yeah, your dad's the big fake, the doper.'  That would just kill me."
The first quote by Lance Armstrong typify his attitude towards his doping. Indeed, Armstrong used the same logic when he stormed out of a meeting with Travis Tygart: everyone doped, but I am the only one being punished.  The second quote is a masterpiece of misinformation: what former cancer patient would take risks that might prompt a return of cancer?  Most sound minded people would agree; the side effects of performance enhancing drug use is not fully understood; drugs might trigger a genetic predisposition or genetic trait and terminate remission: so why take unnecessary risks?  The third quote, apparently motivated Lance Armstrong to confess his crimes on Oprah.  Luke was being teased about his doper father, and Lance Armstrong wanted to set the record straight.  Ignoring the sincerity of his motives, these statements provide a window into the psychological makeup of Lance Armstrong as a man.

Tour de France 1999 

Right from the start doping allegations plagued the miracle man.  Lance Armstrong was detected using a corticosteriod that was on the WADA prohibited list.  There were people who claimed that Lance Armstrong, on his original therapeutic use exemption form, filed with the UCI before the race, listed "none."  "None" meant that he had not been prescribed any prohibited medications by a doctor that was essential for his health.  Later Lance Armstrong would contest this version of the story insisting that he had followed proper protocol.
"I used an analgesic cream that contained corticosteriod to treat a case of saddle sores, so the press reported that I tested positive for a banned substance.  It was untrue.  I had received permission from race authorities to use the cream." P.76.
Nevertheless: during the 1999 Tour de France, the UCI decided to gather samples from selected riders that would be preserved until a suitable test could be developed to detect synthetic EPO: a drug that was being abused with particular virulence at that time.  When these samples were tested in 2004 by the French WADA accredited laboratory LNDD, several samples containing Lance Armstrong's doping control number tested positive for EPO.  The prologue, and several tough mountain stages, including, L'AlpeD'Huez, samples showed nearly perfect synthetic EPO isoforms.  After the mountain stages had stopped, the collected samples showed no sign of further synthetic EPO use: but, the samples did mimic physiological parameters that would be expected after an abrupt stoppage of synthetic EPO use.  Of course, these tests generated an amazing amount of controversy, and the certainty of the test results remain debatable: but: in 2004, the UCI, on the recommendation of Emil Vrijman, refused to suspend any of the riders who tested positive, including Lance Armstrong, citing safety concerns with the laboratory.  Nevertheless: these "positive" results did fuel speculation that the miracle man might have been doping for his entire reign, and these rumors refused to die.

Tour de France 2000

After Lance Armstrong had won an Olympic time trial bronze medal in Sydney, Australia, [since rescinded]  he returned home to an announcement that the French government had opened a criminal doping probe against him and the U.S. Postal Service Professional Cycling Team.
"During the 2000 Tour someone surreptitiously video taped two of our medical staff as they threw away a couple of trash bags.  The tape was sent anonymously to a government prosecutor, as well as to the French 3 television station." P.72.

The medical waste supposedly contained traces of actovegin, a drug that may possibly aid recovery from acute injury.  However, the drug actovegin was not on the prohibited list at the time.  Nevertheless, Sophie-Helene Chateau, the juge d' instruction,
"promptly subpoenaed all of my urine samples from the 2000 Tour as well as those of the rest of the U.S. Postal Service team.  She appointed an assistant prosecutor, Fancois Franchi, to conduct an investigation.  We were charged with suspicion of using doping products, inciting the use of doping products, and using toxic substances." P.73.

This investigation never had any substance, the tests done on the U.S. Postal riders did not turn up any positives for EPO use.  I think the French did it more for sensationalism than for any legitimate reason.  The rumors persisted about the miracle man using performance enhancing drugs, unabated, however.  Why?

TDF 2000 Hautacam Climb

I remember this stage vividly even today.  Lance Armstrong never looked so smooth on the pedals.  In one kilometer of riding he was taking one minute out of Javier Otxoa's lead.  Lance Armstrong dropped Marco Pantani, who initiated an attack, like a hot rock. The 2000 Tour was essentially over at this point, even though Marco Pantani remarked that Lance Armstrong had peaked "too early."

TDF 2000  Mont Ventoux

The cold cruel mistral winds were in full force during this immortal stage.  Marco Pantani attacked and Lance Armstrong responded near the Tommy Simpson memorial.  Armstrong claims that he told Marco Pantani to "ride with him," but Pantani claimed that Armstrong told him to "get out of the way."  Marco  Pantani also was very offended when Lance Armstrong claimed that he had gifted Marco Pantani the stage win.  Lance Armstrong later insulted Marco Pantani by referring to him as "Elefantino" instead of the more respectful "Pirata."  This stage still rates as one of the greatest Tour duels of all time.

TDF 2000 Joux-Plane

"I may not win the 2000 Tour de France, but neither will Lance Armstrong." Marco Pantani.

Still smouldering with fury Marco Pantani solo attacked the peloton and built up a lead of over ten minutes.  Lance Armstrong and the U.S. Postal Service team had to respond to this attack up tempo.  Lance Armstrong was so intent on catching Marco Pantani that he failed to take a musette bag at the feed zone.  The result of this blunder was a spectacular bonk on the Joux-Plane. Marco Pantani's ploy seemed to be working in a masterful fashion.  First, Lance Armstrong was passed by arch rival Jan Ullrich, then by Richard Virenque, both of whom looked at the stricken Lance Armstrong with amazement.  There is no way of knowing how much time Lance Armstrong would have lost, or even if he would have finished the stage, if not two good Samaritans, Roberto Conti and Guido Trentin, in an act of supreme sportsmanship, had not paced Armstrong to the summit of the climb, and sheltered him from the wind.  Marco Pantani later claimed that he had suffered from "stomach cramps from drinking ice cold sugar water on a hot summer day," and after being caught by Lance Armstrong, Marco Pantani faded quickly and retired to the back of the peloton.  Marco Pantani withdrew from the Tour the next day, and he would never ride again in a Tour de France, because, he had assumed the notorious title of persona non grata: a title granted to him because he was suspected of several violations of performance enhancing drug use during the 2001Giro d' Italia.  ASO had had enough of Marco Pantani, in the same way that they had ostracized  Richard Virenque; post Festina.

Tour de France 2001

The doping allegations against Lance Armstrong entered a new phase, but this time the allegations were substantive and long reaching.  From: The Tour is Won on the Alpe, Jean-Paul Vespini, (David V. Herlihy, Translator), Velo Press, 2008.

"The 2001 Tour was barely under way when the journalist David Walsh of London's Sunday Times published explosive new charges fingering the champion himself, Lance Armstrong, who was seeking his third straight Tour victory.  In a highly detailed article, Walsh presented a number of troubling allegations linking Armstrong to drugs, focusing on the racers' association with the controversial Italian doctor Michele Ferrari, whom the American himself had praised for his integrity.  Walsh asserted that Lance Armstrong had visited the doctor on numerous occasions over the years, and even listed the dates and locations of their encounters.  Walsh also quoted a former Motorola racer who asserted that EPO had been widely used by the team when Lance Armstrong had been a member.  The source also cited a few other troubling affairs, including the case of Lance's former teammate Kevin Livingston, who had experienced strange variations in his red-blood-cell count." PP. 143-144.

TDF 2001 The Team Time Trial

Christian Vande Velde and Roberto Heras collided in the U.S. Postal Service train during the team time trial.  Vande Velde broke his arm and had to withdraw from the Tour.  Since the team time trial only requires six riders to cross the line at the same time; thus the picturesque spreading out of the riders at the line:* Lance  Armstrong could have ordered the team to abandon Vande Velde and Heras.**  Instead, Lance Armstrong ordered the team to wait for their fallen riders to recover from their accident.  Incredibly, even with the wait,   the U.S. Postal Service Team finished the team time trial forth on the course, @ 1 minute 26 seconds behind Credit Agricole, who rode an inspired team time trial in support of malliot jaune Stuart O' Grady.
* Note: if this six rider condition is not adhered to, a time penalty will ensue.
**Note: the train consists of nine riders, if none have abandoned the race previous to the team time trial.  If a rider is separated from the train and falls behind he or she is awarded a seperate time.

TDF 2001 Outside of the Time Limit

Then there was an escape by Farancois Simon and Russian rider Andrei Kivilev during a rain soaked stage of the 2001 Tour.  Francois Simon had a lead of 35 minutes.  Of course, in the end this escape did not figure into the final classification, however, the peloton, including Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich did finish outside of the time limit, and according to the rules they could have been disqualified from the race.  In spite of the insistence from some disgruntled fans that everyone outside of the time limit be disqualified, Tour officials found a loophole in the rules; if a certain percentage of the peloton fell outside of the time limit, then the disqualification could be waived, if a reasonable cause could be found for the delay.  Torrential rain might be an acceptable excuse, or possibly a blizzard.  But stupidity?  After all nobody wanted to expend the energy to reel in the breakaway, did they?

TDF 2001 "The Look" L'AlpeD'Huez

Lance Armstrong put on a masterful performance of suffering during this stage.  Feigning fatigue and illness  Lance Armstrong fell to the back of the leading group, a place where many riders "go out the back."  Scenting blood Jan Ullrich and his Team Telekom lieutenants drove a hard tempo, trying to drop Lance Armstrong.  But at the base of L'AlpeD'Huez an amazing transformation occurred.  Lance Armstrong experienced an amazing recovery, the recently exhausted man suddenly showed an amazing resilience.  Lance Armstrong launched an attack, looking over his shoulder through his Oakley sunglasses at Jan Ullrich, while Phil Liggett commented, "Well, are you coming or not?  I guess not," as Lance Armstrong pulled away.  This brazen audacity by Lance Armstrong became immortalized in the annuals of cycling as "The Look."

The reaction to Lance Armstrong at the summit of L'AlpeD'Huez was mixed.  From: The Tour is Won on the Alpe, Jean-Paul Vespini, (David V. Herlihy, Translator), Velo Press, 2008.

Both applause and disapproving whistles greeted Lance Armstrong at the finish line.  The crowd at L'AlpeD'Huez, as skeptical as it was admiring, was focused on a fundamental question:  was Lance Armstrong really the great champion of the new century, or did he simply have access to a yet unknown pharmacopoeia?  It was rather unjust to be suspicious of him at that point.  The American, after all, had always claimed to be clean, and no firm evidence had indicated otherwise.  Jan Ullrich finished second 1:59 behind.  He had lost over 8 seconds per kilometer behind Lance Armstrong, "the motorcycle." P.144.

TDF 2001 Pla d' Adet

The course of Pla d' Adet passed the spot where Lance Armstrong's former Motorola teammate Fabio Casartelli died during a Tour descent in 1995.  Jan Ullrich almost duplicated Fabio Casartelli's feat when failing to negotiate a turn, he plunged off a precipice into the trees.  Incredibly, in spite of all indications, Jan Ullrich emerged unscathed.  In a gesture of supreme sportsmanship, Lance Armstrong stopped pedalling and waited for Jan Ullrich to catch up.  On the last climb Pla d' Adet, Lance Armstrong attacked Jan Ullrich who did not respond:
"I crossed the finish line alone, and toppled off the bike, spent, the new leader of the Tour de France.  We had done what Johan [Bruyneel] asked, and attacked at every opportunity, and the result was that we had won three of the last four stages, and made up 35 minutes and 24 places in the standings.  In two days alone, we'd made up 22 minutes.  It set a record for the biggest deficit ever overcome." P.118

Remarkable what obsessive training and performance enhancing drugs can accomplish.  If there was a concern about Lance Armstrong using performance enhancing drugs during this Tour the suspicions should have focused straight on the results of these stages, there was simply too much uniformity of performance, that indicated artificiality.

During the 2001 Tour de France the invariable questions from the press and public ensued; all focused on Michele Ferrari, who was under investigation for allegedly supplying riders with blood doping.  A link had been established between Michele Ferrari and Filippo Simeoni; a proven doper.  In the investigation of Michele Ferrari, Lance Armstrong's name surfaced.  Lance Armstrong stated that Michele Ferrari had advised him merely on mundane matters: altitude testing, power meter training, watts per kilogram; legal topics that all top riders discuss to improve performance.  But Michele Ferrari had a bad reputation: he brazenly declared in an interview that EPO was no more dangerous than five liters of orange juice. Michele Ferrari was also a star student of Francesco Conconi, a notorious doping doctor who was accused of providing performance enhancing drugs to the 1980 Italian Olympic Team. Francesco Conconi had also designed a medical regimen for Francesco Moser: to prepare him for his World Record One Hour Ride in Mexico city in 1984, a ride that dwarfed Eddy Merckx's old one hour Mexico City world record ride in 1972.  Francesco Moser would later admit that he had injected "doctored" blood prepared by Francesco Conconi and Michele Ferrari.  During the 2004 Tour de France, a curious incident occurred between Filippo Simeoni and Lance Armstrong that directly related to Michele Ferrari.  After Filippo Simeoni publicly accused Lance Armstrong of using illegal substances provided by Michele Ferrari, Filippo Simeoni attempted to join a breakaway on a flat stage near the end of the Tour.  There was no need to reel Filippo Simeoni in, as he was no threat to the general classification.  But unexpectedly, and contrary to cycling etiquette: [a maillot jaune never leaves the peloton to ride down a breakaway], Lance Armstrong went after Filippo Simeoni with a vengeance, and Armstrong reportedly told Filippo Simeoni that if he did not return to the peloton immediately, that he would order his team to attack and reel in the breakaway.  The other riders in the breakaway seeing the malliot jaune in the breakaway were furious with Filippo Simeoni, because he was jeopardizing their chances for a stage win. Filippo Simeoni had to submit to the pressure, he capitulated, returning to the back of the peloton where he faced further rider insults.  Later, Filippo Simeoni declared that he had been threatened by Lance Armstrong: and he filed a lawsuit demanding compensation.  The case was settled in Filippo Simeoni's favor.  This incident was later cited as evidence as to the bullying and tactics of intimidation that Lance Armstrong used throughout his professional career: tactics that also included forcing his hapless teammates to use performance enhancing drugs against their wills: all to satisfy Lance Armstrong's desire to be the greatest Tour champion ever.

Spinning a Myth: It's All About the Weight

Lance Armstrong does spend some time discussing his weight: prior to and post cancer.  This discussion cannot be ignored because during the Motorola period Lance Armstrong rode an average Tour, and most years he withdrew long before Paris.  Since Armstrong still maintained an aura of innocence as to his drug use there had to be another explanation for his tremendous improvement on the bike; a magic bullet, if you will.  A University of Texas physiologist Edward F. Coyle performed a series of experiments on Lance Armstrong and concluded that the increase in performance from prior to post cancer was the result of increased pedaling efficiency, and loss of weight.  Edward F. Coyle's conclusions generated a furious debate among other sports physiologists, however: some called his research bunk, others questioned his methodology, and some even accused him of mis-calibration of his instrumentation.  In Every Second Counts Lance Armstrong does a masterful spin job of misleading dissimulation to support Edward F. Coyle's conclusions.

"Every once in a while, I'd deliver a big ride: when I was 21, I had come out of nowhere to win the Worlds, and then a stage of the Tour de France.  But mostly I cruised for months at a time, performing decently but not exceptionally, just meeting the definition of "professional."  After the cancer, I realized I'd been operating at about half of my abilities.  For one thing, I carried 15 to 20 pounds more weight than I should have, some of it in puppy fat and some of it in margaritas and tortilla chips.  After cancer I was twenty pounds lighter." PP.155-156.

"Under Johan [Bruyneel], I began training seriously, and kept the weight off, and discovered what a huge difference it made in the mountains, where your own body was your biggest adversary.  The lost weight, I discovered, made me 10 to 12 minutes faster over a mountain stage; I figured it saved me about three minutes on every mountain pass I rode.  As a young rider I would start off at the gun and just go.  I didn't really know how to race: I mashed big gears and thrashed around on the bike.  My position all wrong. Now with Johan [Bruyneel] and Chris Carmichael, I studied proper aerodynamic positioning and effective cadence." P.156; italics added.

Indeed!  It was obvious, it was better training, altitude tents, better coaching, better diet, a higher drive and motivation, improved technology, power meters, improvements in skin suits, space age bicycle design, computer analyses of power outputs.  But dope?  Forget about it!

Conclusion:

As Lance Armstrong told Floyd Landis: "There was no mystery and no miracle drug that helped me win that Tour de France in 1999!"  This statement is disingenuous, of course, but it does reinforce the notion that winning Grand Tours requires hard work, and nobody worked harder than Lance Armstrong.

Lance Armstrong also misleads us when he claimed that when his former teammates departed U.S. Postal Service that they maintained good relations.  Tyler Hamilton lived in Girona, Spain; and when he joined CSC, he claims that he actively avoided Lance Armstrong like the plague.  There were rumors that Armstrong fired Kevin Livingston, who joined Team Telekom (T-Mobile) to bring in the Spanish rider Roberto Heras, and that further interactions between Armstrong and Livingston were terse, at best.  In Every Second Counts, even though Lance Armstrong speaks very favorably of Floyd Landis, who had just received a new two year contract, by the end of the contract Floyd Landis was so fed up that he would have retired from cycling rather than continue with U.S. Postal Service.  As Lance Armstrong says in his book, "some people regarded him as a tyrant," and from accounts of his conduct, there appears, today, very few who would disagree with this statement.