Lance Armstrong says conscience clear despite USADA sanctions

But doping expert Michael Ashenden says blood values from 2009 comeback Tour de France consistent with doping

by Simon_MacMichael   October 8, 2012  

Lance Armstrong (pic courtesy Photosport International)

Lance Armstrong insists that his conscience is clear despite the decision of the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA) to ban him from sport for life and strip him of results including the seven Tour de France titles he won between 1999 and 2005. However, doping expert Dr Michael Ashenden has claimed that examination of Armstrong’s blood value data following his return to cycling in 2009 provide evidence of his having doped as he pursued an eighth Tour de France win that year.

Armstrong made his comments after winning last week’s SuperFrog triathlon in San Diego, an event that he was able to compete in since it isn’t endorsed by USA Triathlon, and is therefore not an event subject to the World Anti-Doping Code, the basis for the sanctions USADA has imposed on him.

The 41-year-old was speaking to the editor of Lava, the magazine of the World Triathlon Corporation, owner of the Ironman series. The former cyclist had been due to race in the Nice Ironman in June, but was forced to pull out when he was provisionally suspended after USADA formally charged him with doping offences.

Asked about the impact of the sanctions USADA imposed on him after his decision not to challenge its charges through arbitration, Armstrong said: “It’s their drama. Not mine.

“I was raised in a way, and maybe my mom was this way, and her life wasn’t perfect, it was complicated. But she always looked forward. She looked a day, and a month, and a year, and 10 years from now.

“Some people don’t do that. They sit around and talk about the past. You always get high-school friends who sit around and talk about “hey remember that time…” and I’m like ‘why are you asking me about that?’

“That’s the funny thing,” he went on. “What else do they want to strip? The Tour of Colorado? Tour of the Gila? It’s so dumb.

“I don’t care. Honestly. And I mean that. I wake up and my mind and my conscience and my view on my life and my world, my future and my kids’ future is perfectly clear.

“And I said it after my mountain bike race in Aspen when I raced [the day after USADA announced its sanctions]. Nobody needs to be shedding any tears for me; I’ll find stuff to do. My foundation’s gonna keep rockin’, and my kids are going to remain unaffected. Movin’ on.”

Armstrong also hit out at the reaction to USADA’s decision of his critics, whether they be cycling fans writing blogs, journalists or fellow competitors.

“Yeah, others won’t move on,” he stated. “It’s sad. I’m aware that it’s out there. It’s like, why are you continuing? You got what you wanted; Lance Armstrong never did anything in his life. Great. For some, it’s like, shouldn’t you be out training and focusing on what you’re doing? Fucking move on. So strange.”

Those detractors were thin on the ground at the SuperFrog race, however, with Armstrong supporters very much to the fore.

“I heard a lot of that support, riding and running today. It was great. Obviously there are detractors, but they don’t say anything—which is fine. And if they did say something, that’s fine too. Look, this is a polarizing subject. There are gonna be people strongly pulled to either side.

“But I’m always humbled and blown away by people’s responses. Today, and going to talk at the Leadville pre-race riding briefing, the support I get, it’s like, ‘whoa.’

“Some are true believers that nothing ever happened. Some are believers that something did happen, and some are believers that don’t give a shit what happened.  They’re all over the place, but again, I don’t take it for granted. Every time I show up, I expect picketers. And when they don’t show up, I’m like, “cool.”

“So, we’re gonna just move along.”

Lava also asked Armstrong what the reaction of his sponsors had been to USADA’s action, putting it to him that they appeared “to remain largely in your corner.”

“I’m surprised by that,” admitted Armstrong. “You never assume. It certainly doesn’t hurt to do things like today [the SuperFrog triathlon and associated fundraising speeches]. Trek had someone here today, and they’ll report back about the support on the course, the atmosphere, which was amazing. When I first threw my leg over a Trek, they were at $100 million in sales. Today, they’re going to do a billion.

“Nike is more of a joint venture,” he added. “The Livestrong line continues to be successful, and sales there have been completely unaffected. They’ve been very supportive. All my sponsors have been great.”

While Armstrong continues to protest that he has been the victim of a vendetta by USADA and its CEO Travis Tygart, with his camp insisting that he never failed a drugs test – something that USADA, in its reasoned decision due to be sent to the UCI in the coming days will reportedly seek to disprove – the man who helped devise the governing body’s biological passport programme, doping expert Dr Michael Ashenden, believes that the rider's blood values were suspicious during the 2009 Tour de France.

Dr Ashenden told the website California Watch that blood value data from samples taken during the three week race, in which Armstrong finished third, showed there were fewer young cells than would be usual given the effect of a Grand Tour on an athlete's system, which in turn suggested that his body was assimilating reinfused blood.

“Suppressed red blood cell production is a classic signature associated with blood doping,” said Ashenden. “The body reacts to the presence of excess red cells in circulation by suppressing the bone marrow’s production of new cells.”

Armstrong’s lawyer Mark Fabiani, describing the blood analysis as representing “no evidence at all,” insisted there was a clear dividing line between those who dope and those who ride clean and that his client had never crossed it.
 

23 user comments

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Lance Armstrong "never gave a sh*t about european bike races anyway".

After winning the last regional tri-hard-athon which isn't operated under rules against cheating, Armstrong, 41 described the Tour de France as "someone else's dismal bullsh*t euro-drama" and declared that "earlier times are in the past now, and ain't real stuff. My mommy raised me to believe that if something was a long time ago it cain't have been wrong. Which explains a loada talk I once heard about Greg LeMond's uncle.
Screw. You. All. Movin' on. Cancer."

posted by BigDummy [298 posts]
8th October 2012 - 15:32

5 Likes

Yawn

theclaw's picture

posted by theclaw [75 posts]
8th October 2012 - 15:35

2 Likes

Also, if the extent of Fabiani's arguments for the defence really amount to "your evidence is not actually evidence, it's just some scientist writing stuff about blood" one can rather see why they didn't bother going to arbitration.

Maybe they're holding all their big guns in reserve for when Armstrong's credibility is really threatened.

posted by BigDummy [298 posts]
8th October 2012 - 15:49

2 Likes

'Some are true believers that nothing ever happened. Some are believers that something did happen, and some are believers that don’t give a shit what happened.....'

Is this the Second Coming? Would Lance be cheating in Tri's if he were to use his powers to walk the first leg?

I am sure that in law, every crime ever, has in fact been in the past. Perhaps we should all be 'movin(g) on' instead of employing a justice system.

Get your head out your arse Larry and take your medicine.

arrieredupeleton

posted by arrieredupeleton [566 posts]
8th October 2012 - 16:31

4 Likes

theclaw wrote:
Yawn

Precisely. Must this really drag on any further? (It will!) Everyone made up their mind, one way or the other, about Lance a long time ago. Nobody seems to be emerging from this with any credibility. For example; can Michael Ashenden really be considered a totally impartial commentator, when his organization (SIAB) is partially funded by grants from USADA?
Don't bite the hand that feeds you and all that...

posted by pwake [313 posts]
8th October 2012 - 17:52

1 Like

Quote:
can Michael Ashenden really be considered a totally impartial commentator

So someone who specialises in doping research, which is (predictably perhaps) sponsored by anti-doping agencies, cannot comment on whether someone doped?

This idea that there's an equivalence between someone who signs up for the rules of a sport and then breaks them, and people who keep trying to enforce the rules is really odd.

posted by BigDummy [298 posts]
8th October 2012 - 18:11

2 Likes

pwake wrote:
theclaw wrote:
Yawn

Precisely. Must this really drag on any further?

LA could put a stop to it all by confessing the truth. If he has a conscience he might find, like Tyler Hamilton, that he feels better for it.

felixcat's picture

posted by felixcat [300 posts]
8th October 2012 - 18:25

1 Like

arrieredupeleton wrote:
I am sure that in law, every crime ever, has in fact been in the past.

Minority Report Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8519 posts]
8th October 2012 - 18:47

6 Likes

I just read this in full. Jay Prasuhn's not exactly Paxman is he? Any chance of Lance giving an interview to someone other than a gushing sycophant?

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
8th October 2012 - 21:21

3 Likes

At the end of the day.. I now have the same number of TdF wins as Lance Armstrong.

LOL

What a tit!

posted by ALIHISGREAT [113 posts]
8th October 2012 - 21:48

2 Likes

For sure I'm never going to buy Trek or Nike in light of their joint venture in cynicism with doper Larry.

Sudor

posted by Sudor [183 posts]
8th October 2012 - 23:57

3 Likes

For sure.....etc.
Now thats just plain daft.

posted by mattsccm [280 posts]
9th October 2012 - 6:27

5 Likes

A sad, sad day. We appear to have lost LA to triathlon Big Grin

posted by Alb [89 posts]
9th October 2012 - 6:32

2 Likes

Incredible arrogance from this cheat. Not only did he cheat his way through seven TdeF wins, he even cheated when coming back in 2009. Now of course he doesn't care, all the money he has made for him and his family. He's had his lot, and he doesn't give a flying fu$k about anything anymore.

The arrogance and lack of remorse of the man, to many a true hero and athlete for so many years, is breathtaking ...

posted by Karbon Kev [682 posts]
9th October 2012 - 6:38

4 Likes

Can someone who know's explain to me how sadsac Larry can keep the cash he fraudulently extracted from race organisers, team sponsors and commercial endorsers?

Sudor

posted by Sudor [183 posts]
9th October 2012 - 8:21

3 Likes

He wasnt just a cheat, he was the best at goddam cheatin', you all suck ass at cheatin'

posted by lolol [130 posts]
9th October 2012 - 8:53

4 Likes

Strange how things can be misinterpreted! I don't believe I wrote anywhere that Dr Michael Ashenden "cannot comment on someone who doped". It's just that, for someone, as far as I am aware, who is not involved in the case, he seems to have been particularly vociferous in sharing his opinion and interpretation of these blood analyses.
Perhaps this is because he is genuinely passionate about his work or, more cynically admittedly, perhaps it because he doesn't want to lose funds or perhaps a bit of both.
It just doesn't seem sensible that he is often quoted as an "independent expert" when that is clearly not the case.

posted by pwake [313 posts]
9th October 2012 - 11:58

3 Likes

The Rumpo Kid wrote:
I just read this in full. Jay Prasuhn's not exactly Paxman is he? Any chance of Lance giving an interview to someone other than a gushing sycophant?

No. That's not how Lance rolls.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1380 posts]
9th October 2012 - 14:06

5 Likes

pwake wrote:
Everyone made up their mind, one way or the other, about Lance a long time ago.

I had made up my mind a long time ago that Lance doping was just ideas from French conspiracy theorists, but I now think that he did dope.

I think that a great many people will change their mind about Lance once the USADA reasoned judgement is publicly available.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1380 posts]
9th October 2012 - 14:15

5 Likes

Wait.

What?

Lance Armstrong *has* a conscience?

The revelations in this case just keep on a comin'

Devil

posted by Matt_S [201 posts]
9th October 2012 - 14:23

4 Likes

Imagine the signing bonus LA would get for the 'Coming Clean, How I Lived Beyond Strong' tell-all book? Sick

Tripod16

posted by Tripod16 [119 posts]
9th October 2012 - 14:42

2 Likes

Pwake, You realise Michael Ashenden was both involved in developing the r-EPO test, and more recently also sat on the UCI biological passport expert panel (he resigned from it a few years ago)? In other words, he is more than eminently qualified to discuss this case.

He ended up resigning from that a few years ago. Today Velonation published an interview with him today in which he revealed he asked UCI to further investigate the blood values Armstrong made publicly available in 2009, but UCI did nothing. (Ashenden may or may not have seen Armstrong's UCI blood passport data as part of that programme, while sitting on the panel, but that would have been on anonymised basis). I suspect this may be why he resigned.

posted by Paul J [680 posts]
9th October 2012 - 15:33

3 Likes

Totally agree but please do not knock my Trek EPO..oops I meant Madone. I am just needling you Laughing

Let's face it, LA would make a good addition to the cast of that HBO series 'True Blood' Rolling On The Floor

posted by Seoige [104 posts]
15th October 2012 - 8:09

2 Likes