A new climb for Lance

Loosely translated this is what French publication L’Equipe stated: “Lance Armstrong is a cheater. The seven-time Tour de France winner used a prohibited substance in 1999, and you know what? We’ve got proof.”
Sacre bleu! But hold on there. Are you for real? Or are you just playing?
Apparently the French newspaper is for real and in the most serious of ways.
After a four-month investigation, which involved breaking a few laws along the way, they have come up with not one, not two, not three, but six positive test samples from Armstrong’s 1999 victory that showed he was using the performance enhancing drug EPO.
The French newspaper, which has made it known they have never liked Armstrong from the get-go—they enjoyed calling him the “U.S. Servant Boy” when he captained the U.S. Postal Service team—obtained urine samples from the laboratory in Chatenay-Malabry, which is considered a world-class testing facility and was actually where the process for being able to detect EPO was developed.
You see, reliable testing for the red blood cell-booster EPO came into being in 2001 (though the drug has been a banned substance by the Tour since 1990) and the lab started testing frozen samples from 1998 and 1999 for research purposes in order to help scientists fine-tune their methods. And when a few positive tests came up they called L’Equipe telling them as much.
But here’s where it gets complicated.
There were no names attached to the samples, only a six-digit number deciphered one from the other, but when L’Equipe were able to (illegally) match those numbers with medical statements guess who’s name popped up? Lance Armstrong.
It gets even more complicated.
Take a deep breathe now—whenever a urine test is administered, it is divvied up into two test tubes. The ‘A’ sample is tested and only if that turns up positive for a banned substance is the ‘B’ sample tested. But if the ‘A’ sample comes up negative then it is destroyed, with the ‘B’ sample being held for labs to test on to fine tune their testing procedures.
Armstrong, who was the most tested athlete in the world for many years, has never tested positive for having a banned substance flowing through his body—but it would be more politically correct to say he’s never had an ‘A’ sample come up positive.
“For the first time—and there are no longer rumours, or insinuations, these are proven scientific facts—someone has shown me that in 1999, Armstrong had a banned substance called EPO in his body,” said Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc to the Associated Press after the allegations surfaced.
Leblanc goes on.
“The ball is now in his court. Why, how, by whom? He owes explanations to us and to everyone who follows the Tour. What L’Equipe revealed show me that I was fooled—we were all fooled,” added Leblanc.
And though Armstrong climbed off his bike a month ago, his counterattacking skills remain as sharp as ever.
“There’s setup here and I’m stuck in the middle of it,” Armstrong told the Associated Press. “I absolutely do not trust that laboratory.”
Armstrong went even further with his comments while appearing on CNN’s “Larry King Live” last Thursday night.
“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,” Armstrong said, “and then 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?”
But when ‘Jean Francois’ tested those samples, he didn’t know which cyclist he was testing—all he had was a number on a vial and he simply tested it. L’Equipe did the dirty work by matching the number with a name, but there begs a question—Why was only Armstrong’s name mentioned?
At least a dozen positive samples were handed to L’Equipe, but they didn’t reveal who else tested positive. The article wrote: “On the whole, 12 samples were analyzed by the famous laboratory—six of them were the property of the Texan (Armstrong is from Texas), six of not identified runner.”
Why weren’t the other samples identified? That’s one question that needs to be answered.
And there is another that I would like to see answered—how much EPO was found in the sample?
But why should it matter how much was found you ask. If he took it, he took it. But there’s more to this story.
You see, Armstrong has taken EPO. In his best-selling autobiography, “It’s Not About the Bike”, he said he was administered EPO during his chemotherapy treatment to battle cancer.
“It was the only thing that kept me alive,” he wrote.
So could it be possible that maybe a few trace amounts of the EPO he took during his treatment were still festering in his body the year after he took the drug?
That’s a hypothetical question with its answer being uncertain, but one thing better be certain—Armstrong better not be a drug cheat.
If Armstrong, the world’s most famous cancer survivor, did use EPO during his Tour victory in 1999 like L’Equipe states—then he is guilty of a deceit of incomprehensible callousness and staggering proportion.
If he’s lying, he’d be instantly transformed from one of the most inspirational stories in sports history to an irredeemable pariah. He’d be guilty of conning everyone who used his autobiography as a guidebook to surviving cancer or bought one of those 55 million LIVESTRONG bracelets that his foundation has sold to held fund cancer research.
If he’s lying, it would be a blow of unfathomable magnitude to those that believed in miracles, because he was living proof of one.
“All I can do is come on this stage and tell my story and be honest,” Armstrong said on CNN. “I’ve always done that. Since this stuff’s rolled out, I sleep great at night—I don’t have a problem looking at myself in the mirror.”
I, and millions of others, sure hope so.

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