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.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!
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.
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.
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.