Former cyclist Lance Armstrong stripped of seven Tour De France wins
Former professional road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong has been finally stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned him from competing for life after the International Cycling Union accepted the findings of U.S Anti-Doping Agency report about an elaborate doping program which involves the world-famous athlete.
According to reports, International Cycling Union (UCI) President Pat McQuaid said in Geneva he was “sickened” by the USDA findings, adding, “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling.… He deserves to be forgotten.”
USADA sent 1,000-plus pages to UCI, including a report from 26 witnesses, including 11 former teammates of Lance Armstrong, who alleged that the cyclist and his teams used steroids, the blood-booster EPO, blood transfusions and testosterone in a sophisticated doping scheme during his Tour de France title run.
“It’s a very nasty story,” said Don Catlin, the International Olympic Committee medical commission member who has presided over sports drug testing since the 1980s. “Doping control has a lot of problems.”
Meanwhile, Lance Armstrong has long denied the doping allegations thrown at him and said he’s passed hundreds of drug tests. During a charity fundraiser Sunday in Texas for Livestrong, his cancer charity, he told a crowd he’s faced a “very difficult” few weeks.
On Monday, Armstrong also lost another longtime sponsor, as Oakley sunglasses dropped the cyclist. Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme wants Armstrong to repay the prize money for the championships he won from 1999 to 2005 and says the record books should be wiped clean, without any champion named for that period.
The USADA report alleges Lance Armstrong made use of testosterone on the Tour de France to heal micro-sized cuts and tears in his muscle tissue from endurance racing.
Victor Conte — the notorious mastermind of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) that supplied steroids and other banned substances to home run king Barry Bonds, said that USADA itself does not employ enough of the more sophisticated and expensive Carbon Isotope Ratio test for testosterone. The CIR test detects any presence of synthetic testosterone; the cheaper test requires highly elevated testosterone levels to detect a positive.
“It’s the biggest loophole in all of drug testing, because when you ask what the most anabolic drug is for power and speed, it’s testosterone,” Conte said. “The CIR test can detect use for up to two weeks. There wouldn’t have been seven Tour de France titles by Lance Armstrong if they had done this.”
In its report, USDA said, among other things, Lance Armstrong and his teammates:
– Used small doses of performance-enhancing testosterone and EPO at night, taking advantage of the courtesy testers given not to interrupt the riders’ rest after a daylong competition. Before or just after dawn, they would be back below positive levels.
– Duped testers by methods including a fraudulent prescription, hiding behind locked doors, self-testing blood, receiving tips of testers’ visits and paying doctors a huge amount to direct a doping plan.
During that year’s World Championships in the Netherlands, a UCI tester entered a bed-and-breakfast common area linking the bedrooms of Lance Armstrong, fellow riders Christian Vande Velde and Jonathan Vaughters and team doctor Pedro Celaya.
Afraid that Armstrong’s use of EPO would generate a positive test showing the volume of his red blood cells above the acceptable 50%, Celaya went to his car to “retrieve a liter of saline,” then used it to lower the cyclist’s red blood cells toward a normal male’s 45% level.
The team doctor allegedly put the saline “under his raincoat and smuggled [it] right past the UCI tester and into Armstrong’s bedroom,” according to the report. “Celaya closed the bedroom door and administered the saline to Armstrong … without alerting the UCI tester to their activities.”