August 23, 2005

Lance Armstrong Denies Report that he took EPO: A French newspaper says Lance Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs to help win his 1st tour in 1999. He says its just another witch hunt. What do you guys think, you believe him or not?

posted by redsoxthrowdown to general at 11:13 AM - 63 comments

Why does it seem like everyone wants to bring him down? Just let it go, I think he won fair and square. Of course they have to knock him down because he is uber-successful.

posted by tina at 11:22 AM on August 23

Playas are there to be hated, holmes. Lance has never changed his position, and despite the fact that he's been tested so often he might not know how a regular toilet works anymore, he has never, not once, tested positive for anything. Not drugs, not doping agents, not high RBC count, not antihistamines, nothing. He was used to the scrutiny even back then. It's a part of retirement I have no doubt he won't miss one bit.

posted by chicobangs at 11:33 AM on August 23

What's the point of the scrutiny now? I mean, he's done already. I suppose the French press just have to wait until next July to have someone to pile on (Ulrich, Vinakourov, Basso, step right up).

posted by trox at 11:59 AM on August 23

Its sad that these allegations keep coming to the surface. It does seem that someone is out ot get him Armstong has done alot for cancer awareness and I respect him for that. We need more like him to come forward and speak of their cancer experiences. However there is something about him that doesnt quite "feel" right. For me it has alot to do with his family situation. He was this big family man then in a matter of weeks he was dumping his wife and hanging out with "whats her name".. He can do whatever he likes, but for me, that is what tarnished his rep.

posted by daddisamm at 12:03 PM on August 23

This is a new low - Testing five year old blood of a RETIRED athlete. "I don't know Lloyd, the French are assholes." - Harry, Dumb and Dumber.

posted by mayerkyl at 12:15 PM on August 23

Wow, I love Dumb and Dumber, but I never thought I'd see it quoted to support an argument. It's easy to blame the French, but how is this different from the American media (and a lot of people here, mind you) questioning Barry Bonds' health bill during his 73 HR record year and how it will affect his HOF chances? Keep in mind that the Tour de France is to the French what baseball and its Hall of Fame is to the US people.

posted by qbert72 at 12:29 PM on August 23

Oh come on - I bet that the majority of the pro peloton takes some kinda performance enhancing drug. The better teams/riders just take stuff that the UCI isn't testing for yet... Here's an interesting post from bikeforums.net: "His former teamate says they all took it, Including LA, The former Sougniuer who was the "heart and soul" of the team per the coach says everyone including LA took it. He showed positive for a corticosteroid in 1999, former team personel say that they backdated a prescription for it to appease the UCI In 2000 Postal gets caught tossing empty bags of bovine plasma derivative in the trash, (added to banned list immediatley after) Now this.. whats the surprise? Every one is on something at the pro level." Damned French ;)

posted by JohnSFO at 12:30 PM on August 23

>>>how is this different from the American media (and a lot of people here, mind you) questioning Barry Bonds' health bill during his 73 HR record year Imagine if Bonds were French. Boy Howdy!!

posted by JohnSFO at 12:31 PM on August 23

The national anti-doping laboratory in Chatenay-Malabry, which developed the EPO test and analyzed the urine samples in question, said it could not confirm that the positive EPO results were Armstrong's. A former L'Equipe journalist, Pierre Ballester, was co-author of a book published last year that contained doping allegations against Armstrong Sounds to me like a certain journalist really doesn't like Armstrong kicking everyones asses for the last 7 years. Get over it frenchy he's retired now.

posted by jojomfd1 at 12:54 PM on August 23

If the story is true, Armstrong has been lying to the world for years and his athletic achievements are tainted. I can't judge whether it's true from the AP summary, and I'm leery of the idea that these blood samples were kept secure from tampering for the past six years. However, I'm disappointed that so few people seem to care about the possibility that he might have doped.

posted by rcade at 02:23 PM on August 23

As far as I'm concerned if you hate on Barry then you must hate on Lance. There is no difference. MLB never said that steroids were not allowed and there was no test for the substance they are accusing Lance of using. I am curious to see how we treat these guys in the future.

posted by Drallig9399 at 02:46 PM on August 23

rcade, Tainted my ass. If it wasn't specifically illegal during the TIME at which he won the event, he was playing by the rules! This argument applies to people other than Armstrong, too.

posted by slackerman at 02:50 PM on August 23

According to the story, erythropoietin was a banned substance in 1999. There wasn't a test that could detect it, but it was banned.

posted by rcade at 03:38 PM on August 23

Ack - lay of the French. If it wasn't for them you'd still be having tea and crumpets at 4 PM everyday. Huh? Still want some stupid king pushing you around? Well do ya? Huh? Do ya?!? I have no problem believing Armstrong doped and was never caught. But then again I have no problem believing that everyone who could possibly cheat at any of these things would. Cheating is an important part of capitalism, and hence, our culture. Lance won. He retired and may/may not have successfully cheated - so we'll never know, and therefore have to give him the benefit of the doubt. Hey Chico - you should read this book - it's pretty interesting.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:40 PM on August 23

Say he did take it 1999, they started testing for it in 2001. How did he win all those other times without it?????? The French are just mad that an American can there butt at their own race. Get over it... As for Barry Bonds qbert72, he did use steroids "he admitted it, although 'he didn't know they were steroids" If you don't believe it take a look at his picture from his rookie year and look at it the year he hit 70+. Lou Ferrigno didn't even change that fast when he turned green!!!!!

posted by mcstan13 at 03:53 PM on August 23

>>>The French are just mad that an American can there butt at their own race. Get over it... I think that's exactly it. You have clearly put forth much thought into this and I for one am indebted to your inspiring insight. Say, you wouldn't be interested in a Barry Bonds rookie card would you? You should see how small his head was back then... Ha!

posted by JohnSFO at 04:08 PM on August 23

However there is something about him that doesnt quite "feel" right. daddisamm, anyone who does what Armstrong did is not going to quite "feel" right, as a result of living a profoundly un-normal life, if for no other reason.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:09 PM on August 23

"I don't know Lloyd, the French are assholes." - Harry, Dumb and Dumber. Great line!

posted by panteeze at 05:11 PM on August 23

daddisam, I was annoyed by the turn Lance took in his personal life as well, until I thought about it from a different perspective. He was very young when he married Kristen (post CA) and fast-forwarded to fatherhood. I think his fame afforded him a lot of experiences and he matured in a way that didn't jive with his personal life (just think of how much people you know "change" from 25 to 30 and then add world fame to the mix).

posted by cardsfan at 05:12 PM on August 23

I don't think we will ever know if Lance has used steroids but I do feel this assertion of steroid use will never go away. Hasn't it always been a pattern with professional atheletes to deny, deny, deny? They want to keep there precious endorsement contracts going for as long as possible. Then when they do get caught, they wan't complete forgiveness from the fans. So based on previous steroid abusers denials, i.e. Raphael Palmero, it wouldn't surpise me if Lance did in fact use performance enhancing drugs.

posted by panteeze at 05:17 PM on August 23

Until we have an actual test with someone's name on it (which, incidentally, this most definitely isn't), I honestly believe that Lance's natural advantage came from the way his body reacted to the cancer, and how it drove him to turn his already unnaturally strong body into a machine. No, Lance will never completely escape these rumors, because you can't prove a negative. People will believe what they want, and whatever actually happened in 1999 doesn't really matter.

posted by chicobangs at 05:33 PM on August 23

Perhaps two-time TdF winner Laurent Fignon's reponse to this story is the most appropriate: "I don't give a shit. 1999? This is ancient history. What does this prove and what does this solve? What interests me now is keeping the next generation of cyclists clean and drug-free."

posted by JohnSFO at 05:49 PM on August 23

So based on previous steroid abusers denials, i.e. Raphael Palmero, it wouldn't surpise me if Lance did in fact use performance enhancing drugs. Even though Armstrong was subjected to a testing regime that was far more stringent and that went on long before MLB was doing testing? Cmon now.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:58 PM on August 23

I don't think we will ever know if Lance has used steroids but I do feel this assertion of steroid use will never go away. obPedant: 'banned performance-enhancing drugs' != 'steroids'. EPO isn't a steroid. It's a blood-doping agent, which increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells. (Steroids are generally not much use in endurance sports like cycling. Blood-doping? Sure. Stimulants? Oh yes, alas.) There's a catch-22 here. The best-funded athletes and teams are always going to be one step ahead of the testing regime if they choose to cheat. But if the testing regime can't detect banned agents, what's the point of banning them? (EPO could only be detected from blood samples at the time.) 1999 was the year that EPO use in cycling became big news. Vials were found in the Festina team car. Marco Pantani failed a blood test. And the banning of Richard Virenque, a Festina rider and the darling of the French press, undoubtedly created a deep-seated desire to show that Armstrong was guilty of the same.

posted by etagloh at 07:57 PM on August 23

wait wait wait something isn't adding up for me substances can be banned but undetectable? how does that work? has anyone ever been convicted of using one of these substances? how would they prove it?

posted by chmurray at 08:33 PM on August 23

substances can be banned but undetectable? how does that work? has anyone ever been convicted of using one of these substances? how would they prove it? In Cycling, testable material is stored to test for untestable drugs at a later date.

posted by drezdn at 10:22 AM on August 24

Tour Director chimes in

posted by garfield at 10:39 AM on August 24

Ack - lay of the French. If it wasn't for them you'd still be having tea and crumpets at 4 PM everyday. Huh? Still want some stupid king pushing you around? Well do ya? Huh? Do ya?!? And if it were not for the good 'ol USA, and the canucks, and aussie, the french would still be speaking GERMAN right now. and I'm leery of the idea that these blood samples were kept secure from tampering for the past six years. According to the article they are now testing urine samples from 1999, otherwise they would have been able to find it in his blood back then. Etagloh hit the nail on the head, and it has been no secret of how the french have treated Armstrong over the past 7 years, some even leaning out into the roadway just to spit into his face, or throw thier drinks in his face. Lance said it pretty good in his reply "the witch hunt continues."

posted by jojomfd1 at 11:57 AM on August 24

it has been no secret of how the french have treated Armstrong over the past 7 years, some even leaning out into the roadway just to spit into his face, or throw thier drinks in his face I was on the Champs-Élysées last summer for the Tour's arrival, and saw nothing in that crowd but joy and respect for Armstrong's achievement. Of course, that's just one account. Would you care to provide sources describing the type of behaviour towards Armstrong you're talking about?

posted by qbert72 at 12:40 PM on August 24

I love it when people rewrite history based on stuff they heard on the Howard Stern show. EPO doesn't even last six years. It'd have broken down in a frozen sample a long, long time ago. I asked this in another thread, but: is this steroid (& performance enhancing drugs) hysteria thing more about punishing people retroactively, or about stopping use of these drugs & agents in the future?

posted by chicobangs at 12:44 PM on August 24

EPO doesn't even last six years. It'd have broken down in a frozen sample a long, long time ago. got anything to back that up?

posted by garfield at 12:57 PM on August 24

here is one example

posted by jojomfd1 at 01:06 PM on August 24

>>>it has been no secret of how the french have treated Armstrong over the past 7 years, some even leaning out into the roadway just to spit into his face, or throw thier drinks in his face Those ungrateful swine! Do they not remember WWII!?? For those keeping score: Lance=good, drug-free French=bad, jealous >>>is this steroid (& performance enhancing drugs) hysteria thing more about punishing people retroactively, or about stopping use of these drugs & agents in the future? I think it's probably both but also has a lot to do with selling newspapers. It's my belief that all professional sports have a substantial level of performance enhancing drug use. There's far too much competition and money involved for it to be any other way... >>>here is one example A Reuters article found at freerepublic!? Excellent. FYI - German and Basque fans are notorious for spitting and cursing at any rider who is not one of their own.

posted by JohnSFO at 01:12 PM on August 24

here is another

posted by jojomfd1 at 01:13 PM on August 24

scroll down to the lovely pic on this on if you need any more qbert

posted by jojomfd1 at 01:23 PM on August 24

Search it anywhere you would like JohnSFO the fact is that they have never liked lance there, just because he has kicked thier asses 7 times now. Qbert asked for examples so I put up 3 articles. The only reason WWII was brought up was in response to another joke made by someone else.

posted by jojomfd1 at 01:30 PM on August 24

>>>Qbert asked for examples so I put up 3 articles. But your examples were of German and Basque fans, not French ones. Listen, I don't think I'm going to change your mind, especially if you're a fan of freerepublic.com. I'm sure many French (and German, Spanish, Italian, etc) people may dislike Lance but the bottom line is that Lance has been enormously beneficial to the Tour de France in the publicity he has created for it. He's probably also made a lot of money for the French.

posted by JohnSFO at 01:38 PM on August 24

I put up 3 articles Thanks for taking the time. The first one comes from a notorious Republican news source. The second one mentions general crowd brouhaha at one poorly-designed stage. Only Armstrong's reaction to the crowd is mentioned, but the article implies that all riders were affected more or less equally. And did you even read the text on top of the picture in your third link? Here it is for you: "I doubt the constipated looking fellow shown here thinks much of politics. He's a Basque cycling fan and is no doubt out to cheer for one of the five Basque cyclists in the race. This was Saturday btw, and I'm sure his negative enthusiasm for Lance has more to do with the fact the Basque favorite, who wears orange, btw, wasn't doing so well. You might also notice that many of the fans appear to be cheering for Lance." The Basque Country is in Spain. You can stop looking for examples now, I'm convinced.

posted by qbert72 at 01:42 PM on August 24

> EPO doesn't even last six years. It'd have broken down in a frozen sample a long, long time ago. > got anything to back that up? garfield, I went back to the article I read that from, and while it's not ruled out, there is skepticism about EPO lasting that long:

From Dr. Christiane Ayotte, director of the Doping Control Laboratory at Montreal's Institut National de la Recherché Scientifique: "We are extremely surprised that urine samples could have been tested in 2004 and have revealed the presence of EPO," Ayotte said in an interview with VeloNews on Tuesday. "EPO - in its natural state or the synthesized version - is not stable in urine, even if stored at minus 20 degrees."

posted by chicobangs at 01:44 PM on August 24

"There were lots of aggressive fans surrounding the riders and I even saw two idiots spit at Lance Armstrong." Where does that say German????

posted by jojomfd1 at 02:19 PM on August 24

Here is the same reuters article, but not from the free republic just for you John If you look it is from the tour director

posted by jojomfd1 at 02:22 PM on August 24

>>>Here is the same reuters article, but not from the free republic just for you John Ok, ok jojo - you win. The French hate Lance and deserve our scorn.

posted by JohnSFO at 02:30 PM on August 24

Since when is Reuters a "notorious Republican news source"? Or did I miss the Bush family invading their corporate offices?

posted by wfrazerjr at 02:52 PM on August 24

Yeah, I take back the "notorious Republican news source" jab. I just found weird that the link to the original Reuters piece on FreeRepublic did not work. In any case, my point still stands: some journalists and fans are giving a dominating champ a hard time over alleged PED use. This is eerily similar to the Bonds situation, and has nothing to do with the nationality of the parties.

posted by qbert72 at 03:28 PM on August 24

French-bashing. Le sigh. You really have to know something of the chronology here. The French sporting press saw Virenque as a Tour champion in waiting; then the EPO scandals blew open. Given the number of riders and teams that were found to be doping, it established the belief that everyone was at it. So the parallel with Bonds is a good one. The French sporting press -- especially L'Équipe -- doesn't like Armstrong for a multitude of reasons. But he became a patron, and earned the respect of riders like Hinault, and the respect (if not the love) of the French public. Detecting the signs of EPO in a six-year old urine sample? Count me among the extreme sceptics.

posted by etagloh at 08:41 AM on August 25

So the parallel with Bonds is a good one Bonds has admitted to taking steroids (unknowingly). Armstrong has not. We know that Barry is guilty, we do not know that Lance is guilty, which is a significant difference.

posted by mayerkyl at 09:35 AM on August 25

Bonds is guilty of jack shit. Steroids weren't even banned substances when (and if) he took them. EPO was banned from pro cycling at the time. There is a significant difference, you're right.

posted by qbert72 at 10:00 AM on August 25

Here is some more from Lance Armstrong about this. Sorry it is linked through yahoo, but it is an AP article

posted by jojomfd1 at 11:15 AM on August 25

qbert, Steroids are ILLEGAL in America and therefore illegal in baseball that is played in America. Bonds is guilty, period. EPO was banned from cycling at what time? You're going to trust these wishy-washy, 6 year old piss samples from reporters who have been bashing Lance for a decade? If you think Bonds looks cleaner than Lance, you're crazy.

posted by mayerkyl at 11:33 AM on August 25

If you think Bonds looks cleaner than Lance, you're crazy. EPO has absolutely no effect on your muscular mass. It only helps your blood transport more oxygen. You're going to trust these wishy-washy, 6 year old piss samples from reporters who have been bashing Lance for a decade? L'Équipe is France's most reputable sports paper. Armstrong's 6-year-old sample was used in the development of a brand new test, the first one to be able to distinguish between natural and artificial EPO in urine. Test results were supposed to remain anonymous. L'Équipe connected some dots, that's what investigating journalists do. I've already read medical opinions from all over the world confirming that tracing EPO in a 6-year old sample is possible. Here's a quick one: "Australian medical researcher Robin Parisotto, who worked on developing the EPO test for the Sydney Olympics, verified that such urine testing going back six years could pick up evidence of EPO abuse within three to seven days of an athlete injecting it." And here's Dr. Ayotte's conclusion: ""I don't dispute their findings," Ayotte said. "If there's residual EPO after five years, it was properly identified. We are not that lucky here."" (meaning that her tests are not yet able to identify EPO after such time) This is a pretty strong case against Armstrong. One could even argue it is stronger than the Bonds' case, where it will be hard to prove what was in "the cream" and "the clear" without any blood or urine sample taken at that time. If you want my opinion (which is just that), both of them did use PEDs at some time, in a field where the majority of their competitors used them too. Both of them are nevertheless remarkably talented athletes, who deserve our admiration for their sports accomplishments. And both of them are (were) unstoppable, arrogant champs, which helps explain why they're both under close scrutiny, even retrospectively. And I'm not denying that some people digging shit up have less than respectable motives behind their actions. That's the price of fame for you. I would just like people to step up to the plate and defend Bonds the way they defend Armstrong. Of course, they couldn't use the "It's just some angry French getting their asses kicked" argument. In the end, Laurent Fignon is right. And French too. And I always like when people try to end a discussion by using "period".

posted by qbert72 at 12:17 PM on August 25

I wasn't talking about "looks cleaner" in terms of muscle mass or bulk. I was speaking in terms of overall reputation as trustworthy individuals in regards to substance abuse. Barry's excuse of not knowing what substances he was putting into his body was so weak it destroyed any credibility that he may have had, PERIOD. Sorry for not being more specific, which caused your long-winded research paper to be off base. I'm sure if I had the time (or the inclination)I could drudge up an equally enlightening thesis refuting the majority. Or maybe I'd just state the possiblity that samples stored for 6 years may be subject to tampering, especially by those who already loathe the athlete in question. But I'd rather not. Anyway, L'Équipe sure is raking in a pretty franc aren't they? Slander one of the world's most recognizable athletes? That will work. It's a nice tabloid.

posted by mayerkyl at 01:30 PM on August 25

>>>L'Équipe sure is raking in a pretty franc aren't they? It's Euros baby, Euros :)

posted by JohnSFO at 05:43 PM on August 25

pardon my french, but the french are lying assholes.

posted by ramon at 09:06 PM on August 25

i think qbert72 has been smoking EPO. qbert72/dude, do you really think a press corps that has tried to tear down lance for seven years (aka, that of france) is now somehow trustworthy ... having tried to ambush him again? pass qbert72 the EPO bong (again).

posted by ramon at 09:15 PM on August 25

to drezdn: no, you are incorrect. samples are NOT stored to test later. that is utterly INCORRECT. in fact, for such samples to be tested, two criteria must be met: 1) the findings CANNOT be made public; and 2) you MUST have the approval of the person tested. obviously, neither of these criteria was met--whether the samples were manipulated or not. moral of the story: drezdn, learn the rules before you challenge lance.

posted by ramon at 09:19 PM on August 25

in contrast, mayerkyl knows his EPO!

posted by ramon at 09:20 PM on August 25

I think you're all missing the point here. The French don't just hate Armstrong, they hate everyone who isn't French. They're a very egalitarian nation. I hate to disappoint you all but Armstrong doesn't have an "overall reputation" of trustworthiness in Europe. In fact we all think he's a doper. FULL STOP!!1!! (insert dancing banana here).

posted by squealy at 05:03 AM on August 26

Good article covering the scientific aspect of the case, worth a read. In summary, it seems these tests never yield false positives, and that Armstrong's defense should focus on protocol (trying to find possible tampering) and identification of the sample (debunking the number matching done by L'Équipe). At this time Armstrong seems to be blaming protocol or lack thereof, which is what he should be doing. Also, the World Anti-Doping Agency is getting involved, although "there is no precedent that would allow WADA to strip Armstrong of a title".

posted by qbert72 at 09:08 AM on August 26

drezdn, learn the rules before you challenge lance. I'm not challenging Lance. In several books on the Tour, I've seen mentions of the fact that samples are saved to test for drugs that might not be detected at the time. Michael Barry's book would be one such example.

posted by drezdn at 12:06 PM on August 26

Armstrong gets backing from USA cycling "For the head of the agency to say he actually doesn't believe in the code ... if your career is riding on the line, wouldn't you want a B sample?" Armstrong told the AP. "The French have been after (me) forever, and `Whoops!' there's no B sample? The stakes are too high." NO, the french just love him, huh??

posted by jojomfd1 at 05:29 PM on August 26

drezdn: no bad intended. the whole thing has been a bit swirled in the brain. on the other hand, squealy: should we be surprised that europeans don't like it when an american kicks their tails seven years in a row in the top event of a sport that is very popular in europe and not popular at all in the united states? please, squealy. imagine what you all would think if we started winning the world cup soccer/football every year! (note: i don't expect that to happen.) although the usa basketball squad finally got spanked in the olympics, we didn't accuse the victorious argentians of doping, wearing illegal super-lift shoes, tugging down american shorts during action, and other ludicrous things. no, we got our butts beat at a sport we invented and have dominated for years and years. (note: i have always thought that our college players should represent the usa in the olympics, like it was until the "dream team.")

posted by ramon at 09:02 PM on August 26

"A guy in a Parisian laboratory opens up your sample, you know, Jean Francois so-and-so, and he tests it — nobody's there to observe, no protocol was followed — and then you get a call from a newspaper that says `We found you to be positive six times for EPO.' Well, since when did newspapers start governing sports?" Even Larry King makes sense about this shit.

posted by jojomfd1 at 02:48 AM on August 27

oops, Lance on Larry King's show, sorry its really late. cant sleep.

posted by jojomfd1 at 03:05 AM on August 27

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