The last couple of days have seen more mud slinging in the sporting soap opera that is Lance Armstrong. I am desperately trying to sit on the fence and write an objective piece here, but it is becoming increasingly difficult not to pick a side as the arguments become more polarised.
First we had the Australian scientist guy who gave a quote to a rival website where he insisted that there was no doubt in his mind that Lance had used EPO in 1999 (allegedly!!). He added that the facility in France had used proven methods to test the sample and that there was no reason (as Armstrong had claimed) to suspect that there had been any malpractice which could have led to a false positive. This broke on the day that the French went public with claims over Armstrongs behaviour during a random test in March.
As Road.cc is reporting this morning, Lances' side of the story is that he didn't hide for half an hour, he asked if he could take a shower and returned within 20 minutes whilst calls were made to the UCI to confirm the testers authenticity. Other websites went further and insisted that Armstrongs Director Sportif, Johann Bruyneel, spoke directly with Pat McQuaid but Armstrong makes no mention of that in his statement.
So like many now I am stuck at a crossroads, knowing that not picking a side and trying to remain objective isn't going to work. So here are my questions... (1) If he has been tested 24 times since returning to the sport in September, have other riders been challenged for a similar number of samples? or can Lance have some justification if he were to claim he is being targetted? (2) If the authorities are keen to test him 24 times in 8 months have they some strong suspicions they are acting on and if so, why are they not getting what they want?
I really want to believe the Armstrong legend and carry it forward to the Tour this summer, but I suspect we will never get clear waters to judge him on without the spectre of drugs muddying them. And that is a real shame.
Link to that article... http://nyvelocity.com/content/interviews/2009/michael-ashenden