Sunday, 26 August 2012

Is Armstrong telling the truth? 12 people who say otherwise

It's become abundantly clear over the past few days that the general public and more importantly the cycling world still seems to remain divided on whether Lance Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France. To look at it in the simplest of terms, Lance is either lying or telling the truth. Personally I believe him to be a liar, however if Lance is telling the truth who then must be lying?

Floyd Landis, the man who started the ball rolling has arguably lost the most by coming forward. In speaking out against Lance he had to admit that he did dope during the 2006 Tour de France and as a result defrauded 1800 people out of half a million dollars through the fairness for Floyd fund. Landis agreed this week to repay the sum within three years in an attempt to avoid prison time. The former USPS rider spoke of Lance's EPO and testosterone use, how Lance had helped him obtain and use doping products, how he and Lance had received blood transfusions during races and how Lance used to boast about being powerful enough to have a 2001 positive for EPO covered up.

Tyler Hamilton told his story on the US show 60 minutes and in doing so he admitted doping to win a gold medal in Athens 2004. Despite testing positive for a blood transfusion Tyler had kept that gold medal because his B sample had been improperly stored. Tyler had been home and dry but his own personal guilt and a subpoena to testify before a grand jury during Lance's federal trial changed everything. He came clean, admitted doping and told how he'd seen Armstrong receive blood transfusions and inject himself with EPO.

Armstrong's former Masseuse Emma O'Reilly stated that she had lent him makeup to cover up needle marks, helped him dispose of syringes and picked up packages containing doping products. O'Reilly also told of how team officials had panicked over Armstrong's positive test for steroids during the 1999 tour, she explained how the team doctor had forged a backdated prescription for a steroid based cream for saddle sores.

Mike Anderson was a mechanic for Armstrong between 2002 and 2004, their relationship took a turn for the worse when Anderson discovered a box of Androstenedione while cleaning Armstrong's bathroom. Anderson was terminated soon after and refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

In 2006 Frankie and Betsy Andreu testified to have heard Armstrong tell doctors in 1996 that he had taken EPO, growth hormone and steroids. Their testimony was part of the SCA case against Armstrong, SCA didn't want to pay a $5 million bonus for Tour de France wins. Frankie Andreu also admitted to using EPO to prepare for the 1999 tour, Armstrong's first victory in the race. Andreu stated that he was introduced to doping in 1995 while riding for Armstrong's former Motorola team, he revealed that while he did not see Armstrong using PEDs at Motorola he was confident he was doping.

Greg Lemond was the first American to win the Tour de France and in the beginning a Lance fan. In 2001 Lemond learned that Lance was working with Michelle Ferrari, a sports trainer who famously once said EPO was no more dangerous than orange juice. Lemond stated that he was disappointed Lance was working with Ferrari, a month later Lemond issued an apology and said Lance's performances were the result of hard work and dedication. Three years later Lemond revealed that he had been forced to issue an apology after being threatened. Armstrong warned Lemond to keep quiet or he would find ten people to say that he had taken EPO and that he would destroy his relationship with Trek Bicycles. Lemond's own brand of bicycles were made by Trek and a breakdown of that relationship would have ruined a profitable business.

In addition to the seven aforementioned individuals numerous ex-teammates have given evidence to USADA, I don't want to speculate as to what they might have said however I'm sure the testimonies will emerge over time. Some of those ex-teammates include George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Jonathan Vaughters, Christian Van de Velde and David Zabriske. At the very least all five have either seen Armstrong take or discuss taking PEDs, otherwise I doubt they would be on USADA's witness list.

Here we have twelve individuals that according to Lance are lying, and telling a very complicated and coordinated lie at that. It just doesn't seem plausible to me and almost everyone of the 12 is in a worse position as a result of telling the truth. In my opinion it's largely why Lance has kept his doping secret quiet from the general public since 1999, what did people have to gain by speaking against him and telling the truth? This was a powerful man, someone who went for private bike rides with the US president and described himself as a friend of Nicolas Sarkozy. Greg Lemond is a good example of why people kept quiet, one phone call from Lance and he could have destroyed Greg's livelihood, honestly that's a man that I'd think twice about messing with.

Finally to all the Lance believers; you're free to think what you wish however I'd be interested to hear why you've decided to ignore these 12 individuals. Recovering from cancer and returning to professional sport is admirable but it doesn't make you a saint, it doesn't excuse defrauding millions of people.


  1. You can add Steven Swart to the list, Armstrong's former teammate at Motorola who claimed Armstrong was the driving force behind EPO use on the team.

    1. Have you read David Walsh's book 'From Lance to Landis'? Worth a read if you haven't already.

    2. Not that one, no, but I have read LA Confidential and found it very interesting, particularly the Emma O'Reilly segment.

    3. Incidentally, Walsh has an article/overview of the situation.

    4. LA Confidential is on my list, I only got a good translation a few days ago.

  2. I do agree that it is almost certain that LA used PEDs... however, there are weaknesses with the case against him. First, some of the named people have grievences: Hamilton and Landis have been so badly damaged by their own PED use, they could readily accuse LA as it is good for their income now that they've lost their high ground.

    More significantly, though, the argument is weak. If Armstrong had been living with the 12 witnesses 24/7 for ten years, and they bore witness to the fact that in their time with him he never used an illicit substance... one urine/blood test would have greater weight. In the case that USADA has built, they are claiming that the word of 12 people is greater than the results of the 276 tests (or however many it is) that he took.

    I know that there is suspicion over the two early tests, but they were declared legal at the time.

    Finally, there is no benefit from claiming that he loses his TdF wins: there is no valid winner from any of them if LA was positive as so many in his wake were using PEDs. More sensible would be to asterisk the victories as being tainted.

    1. You are putting way too much relevance on drug tests.

      Bjarne Riis admitted doping, never failed a test; Jan Ullrich doped his whole career, had one offseason failed test for ecstasy; Ivan Basso and Alejandro Valverde were caught with blood bags, never tested positive; Marco Pantani was doped to the gills, never tested positive, only removed from a Giro due to high hematocrit levels; Frankie Andreu & JOnathan Vaughters both admitted doping after they retired, neither ever tested positive; Virenque, Zulle, Mancebo, Moreau, Dufaux, Jaksche all admitted or were caught doping despite not failing tests; Johan Museeuw admitted doping after he retired, never failed; Armstrong teammates Hincapie, Leipheimer, Danielson, VandeVelde and Zabriskie all apparently confessed their doping to USADA; only Leipheimer had ever failed a test and that was as an amateur.

      Passing drug tests means next to nothing in and of itself. Read Tyler Hamilton's book for the numerous ways they were able to beat them. Take into account that blood doping and EPO weren't testable for much of or all of Armstrong's career.

      Landis named 16 people involved in Postal's doping operation, not just Lance. He also named a couple of his teammates at Phonak. Hamilton named numerous Postal riders besides Lance. Postal's former head soigneur talked is a witness to Armstrong and Postal's doping.