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Mass of damning detail reveals years of organised cheating by Armstrong and his teammates

Less the smoking gun that many expected and more a nuclear explosion, the fallout from which will continue for months, years, to come. That’s the initial impression given by USADA’s publication this evening of its full reasoned decision plus supporting documents in the Lance Armstrong case on its website.

It also shatters the myth that many Armstrong supporters continued to cling to, that the agency's evidence was based on "hearsay," backed by statements from a handful of self-confessed dopers.

The material USADA has made public damns not only Armstrong, but many others active in the sport during what is now termed the "dark years," and who continue to be involved in it. It's not an exaggeration to say that after today, none of us will view the sport in the same way ever again.

The sheer volume of evidence, and the minute detail it goes into, is astonishing and there is little chance of making sense of the whole so soon after its publication on USADA’s website, apparently brought forward due to the main document being leaked on the internet while still under embargo.

We’ll be analysing the contents and their implications more fully in the days ahead, but for now, here are some key points that emerge:

Armstrong was invited to meet with USADA prior to his being charged. He declined that offer, “setting in motion the sequence of event that led to USADA’s charges and ultimately [his] sanction.”

USADA says “the achievements of USPS/Discovery Channel… including those of Lance Armstrong as its leader, were accomplished through a massive doping conspiracy… Armstrong’s career on USPS/Discovery Channel… was fuelled from start to finish by doping.”

For reasons of transparency, USADA has discussed its evidence “in significant detail, just as an arbitration panel would have done had Mr Amstrong been willing to allow the evidence in his case to be heard by independent arbitrators.”

It’s worth pointing out that had Armstrong elected to go to arbitration, he would have had to allow the retesting of suspect samples or accept USADA’s findings on those issues; as it is, he can continue to protest that incorrect testing protocols were used, or that the samples were just suspect, and not hard evidence of doping. Such protestations now have an increasingly hollow ring.

Witness testimony from a number of former USPS riders including George Hincapie and Jonathan Vaughters asserts that Armstrong was openly using EPO and cortisone from the time he joined the team following his return to the sport in 1998 after beating cancer.

Following the arrival of Johan Bruyneel and Dr Luis Garcia Del Moral from ONCE in 1999, doping is alleged to have been systemic at USPS in pursuit of the sole ambition of winning the Tour de France. Dr Michele Ferrari, who had been working with Armstrong for several years, was closely involved in team training camps. By now, it is said that a system was in place to ensure distribution of EPO to riders.

USADA has witness statements asserting that Armstrong was able to escape sanction in repect of a positive test for cortisone on the 1999 Tour de France only because of a backdated prescription from Del Moral for a saddle sore cream containing the substance. Witnesses state that the saddle sore cream story was a fabrication and that the presence of cortisone was due to an injection.

The agency say that by the 2000 season, doping at USPS had gone beyond the use of EPO and testosterone and now also encompassed blood doping at Bruyneel’s instigation.

During the same season, Armstrong allegedly abandoned a race in Spain after Hincapie, who says in his affidavit that he knew that his team leader had just taken testosterone, texted him to warn him that drug testing personnel had arrived at the team hotel. By the year end, Hincapie, like other team mates, would have been invited to work with Ferrari in exchange for a substantial slice of his annual income.

By now, Armstrong had become the biggest story in sport; the man who had beaten seemingly terminal cancer and come back to win possibly the toughest event in any sport. True, uncomfortable questions were already being asked, but at that point, the doubters were a tiny minority.

However, USADA’s documentation reveals how year after depressing year, as the myth of Armstrong was being carefully nurtured, the doping programme at USPS was being carefully nurtured.

Its evidence for that isn’t from a handful of jealous rivals or former team mates who had lied under oath about their own drug use – yes, Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis are among the witnesses, but they are heavily outnumbered by riders who, before opening up to USADA, had unblemished reputations.

In painstaking detail, USADA catalogues the allegations made against Armstrong by a succession of those who provided it with detailed affidavits; the training with Ferrari, the team’s systematic approach to doping, the clandestine transfusions in hotel rooms, the evasion of drugs testers. The attention to detail is immaculate, each assertion carefully footnoted with a direction to the affidavit where it is made.

Revelations in the reasoned decision and its supporting documentation range from the truly mundane to the absolutely shocking.

An example of the former lies in a trip by Armstrong to Italy to meet with Dr Michele Ferrari being identified because his then wife Kristin, who accompanied him, asked Betsy Andreu, wife of US Postal rider Frankie Andreu, if she “would make some risotto if the Armstrongs brought the ingredients from Italy.”

An illustration of the latter is the allegation by former US Postal rider Jonathan Vaughters that Armstrong had told him that he blamed the UCI for the extent of the cancer that nearly killed him, because its doping controls had not picked up high levels of HCG in his system when the disease was at its early stage.

Vaughters claims that Armstrong told him: “If I ever have a doping problem, I have this card to play.”

As it turned out, Armstrong folded his cards the moment a US district court judge ruled that USADA did have jurisdiction in the case.

Whatever his protestations that he was the victim of a witch hunt, and that USADA lacked powers to sanction him, the body of evidence made public by the agency today leaves one with the overriding impression that Armstrong knew his opponent had been dealt an unbeatable hand.
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

66 comments

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Gkam84 [9089 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm half way through Appendix A and its fair to say. I'm really not going to be following pro cycling with the same interest I had for it.

If its possible for all this to happen, Its still possible......In 5-10 years time. Will I be seeing the same again?  14

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andyspaceman [246 posts] 3 years ago
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I don't think it will dull my enthusiasm for the sport. It may not be clean now, but I don't doubt that it is a lot cleaner.

I have a lot of respect for the riders that have come forward, admitted their own guilt, and testified - especially those that have cut short their own riding careers to do so.

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jamesfifield [108 posts] 3 years ago
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andyspaceman wrote:

riders that have come forward, admitted their own guilt, and testified

I'm not sure I have the same level of respect for the likes of Hincapie and Leipheimer etc, who had no choice as to whether they came forward or not: they were subpoened weren't they?
I do agree though, I will continue to enjoy watching cycling as a sport. And it definitely will not deminish the joy I get from riding.

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NeilG83 [301 posts] 3 years ago
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Gkam84 wrote:

I'm half way through Appendix A and its fair to say. I'm really not going to be following pro cycling with the same interest I had for it.

If its possible for all this to happen, Its still possible......In 5-10 years time. Will I be seeing the same again?  14

I told myself that whatever this report said I would continue to follow cycling as most of it happened years ago and the sport is cleaner now, but @inrng is now tweeting an Italian report about more recent clients of Ferrari. Names so far include Pozzato, Popovych, Kreuziger, Garzelli, Possoni and Luis Leon Sanchez!

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Simon_MacMichael [2457 posts] 3 years ago
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NeilG83 wrote:

I told myself that whatever this report said I would continue to follow cycling as most of it happened years ago and the sport is cleaner now, but @inrng is now tweeting an Italian report about more recent clients of Ferrari. Names so far include Pozzato, Popovych, Kreuziger, Garzelli, Possoni and Luis Leon Sanchez!

It's a bit more than a report - it's a sworn affidavit dated May 2011 from Leonardo Bertagnolli, given to Italian state prosecutors and attached to the USADA reasoned statement.

Proceedings are currently open against him for bio passport infractions, though now his association with Ferrari is out in the open, that could result in separate proceedings.

Bertagnolli retired in June, but of course some of those he names are very much active.

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Gkam84 [9089 posts] 3 years ago
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Neil, its not an Italian report. Its part of the USADA case as linked above. I don't read Italian, but saw all the names earlier and my first thought was.....NO anyone but LuLu  20

We'll see what comes now, but at this rate we're going to have half the peleton under investigation  13

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droshky [10 posts] 3 years ago
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No youngsters there, and no squeeky clean teams. Yes plenty of the peloton may turn out to have been involved, but hope for the future?? Compare with the progress of exposure in athletics, tennis, footie etc, not to mention the World Series of American sports.

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notfastenough [3709 posts] 3 years ago
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So what about the Kimmage allegations? Is their sufficient to support his position against the UCI?

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bigant [43 posts] 3 years ago
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AND he runs red lights.  14

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alotronic [477 posts] 3 years ago
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Wow, amazing reading. We knew it was bad but seeing it all laid out like that. Frack them all really (riders, teams, friendly media). Makes all that pro stuff just meaningless. Sad for those who got done over on the way.

Thank goodness for amateur sport and that riding a bike is still a great thing to do just for itself.

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NeilG83 [301 posts] 3 years ago
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notfastenough wrote:

So what about the Kimmage allegations? Is their sufficient to support his position against the UCI?

The report says that Armstrong 2001 Tour de Suisse test result was suspicious, but not positive. Therefore technically the UCI did not cover up a positive test result.
Landis was found guilty of defamation and looks like Kimmage might be too.

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bikeandy61 [538 posts] 3 years ago
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Thank heavens for amateur sport? Didn't a young UK am get caught in the last 24 months? Wasn't there also a report of something like 5 riders from a US Grand Fondo having been caught using EPO?

One has to accept that there are ultra competitive people in ALL walks of life for whom any route to success is acceptable.

As someone said recently - have the bankers who have ruined peoples lives been exposed to quite the same level of hate as LA seems to be getting? Yes they were castigated but continue on with their careers getting bonuses and salaries that us mortals (and a lot of pro cyclists) can ny dream of.

I'm not supporting what LA is said to have done I just wonder why cycling is such a target.  7 2

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adriank999 [77 posts] 3 years ago
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What’s interesting is there are a lot of “I was told” or “I understood” which I understand are not allowed in our courts of law but few actual witnesses to Armstrong actually doping, except from those whom I understand might have an axe to grind.

It will be interesting to see LA’s lawyer’s reply

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Sudor [188 posts] 3 years ago
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Just a snippet from page 161 to vindicate Paul Kimmage and David Millar's comments on the UCI acquiescence in the doping culture . . .

"As set forth in the affidavit of former professional cyclist Jörg Jaksche, the UCI has responded with similar disdain and disinterest towards other cyclists that have tried to bring forth evidence of the serious extent of doping within the peloton. After coming forward and admitting doping in 2007, Mr. Jaksche spoke with UCI lawyers and officials, including Mr. McQuaid, seeking to explain the level of doping that had been taking place on Team Telekom, ONCE, CSC and Liberty Seguros, however, according to Mr. Jaksche, “the UCI showed zero interest in hearing the full story about doping on these teams and did not seek to follow up with me.”839 Rather, Jaksche reports that “McQuaid told me he would have liked me to have handled things differently from which I can only conclude he wished I had not been as forthcoming regarding the degree of doping that was taking place in the peloton.”840 "

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MattT53 [146 posts] 3 years ago
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To me it's not the fact that USP ran a doping programme that gets me, it's just the odd sentence that shows the current prevalence - such as in Danielson's Affidavit "The team doctor (who is currently the team doctor for Liquigas-
Cannondale) said that some riders had second or third apartments which they used to store their
performance enhancing drugs." Pretty damn depressing stuff. Especially about LL too, one of my favourite riders ....

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elevensees [4 posts] 3 years ago
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 2 Today, I'm sad. It was always in the back of my mind that LA couldn't possibly perform the way he did, against the competition he faced (Pantani, Ullrich, etc. who were notorious for their "assisted" rides) whilst being clean. But I bought into the story along with millions of others. Why couldn't he have re-engineered his body after the cancer treatment? I've seen what it can do and what it leaves behind and when applied to someone as focussed as LA, there was no reason to disbelieve that the right amount of work would produce astounding results (think Bradley Wiggins prep for this year's tour). So I've quietly gone on believing, albeit ever more tentatively, that LA was clean, even in the face of mounting opinion and evidence. The one event I didn't want to occur was for big George H to come forward and say it was all true, I kind of felt that if that happened, that was pretty much it for me. I don't really know why that was my turning point and I'm no hero worshipper of LA, GH, or particularly any pro rider. I ride everyday and have done so for the last 20 years, so I have a (very slight) understanding of what it must take to ride at that level and that performance enhancing drugs, by there very nature, make it easier to achieve results, or probably, more likely, just maintain the day to day fitness to even compete. But i still wanted to believe. Now I don't. I'll keep watching, and reading about the sport I love and that I think is probably entwined in my DNA after all these years, because I think it's probably cleaner now than it ever has been. But I'm of an age, where pretty much the vast majority of my golden moments (mid 80's on) have been tarnished. That's why I'm sad today.

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_SiD_ [162 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm finding it a bit convenient that those without a positive - Barry, Hincapie etc and others sufdenly stopped doping in 2006. It makes out that Armstrong was the architect of doping in pro cycling. It's preposterous.

I know UDADA's remit was doping on the USA team, but surely down the line someone will offer contradictory evidence post 2006 and the whole can of worms will reopen and the witnesses in the USADA case may look discredited.

I don't buy it.

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Super Domestique [1605 posts] 3 years ago
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This whole thing makes me sick!  31

I hold my hand up and say I was a fan of Lance. I had friends doubt him but I always thought the better of him.

Funnily enough it was on his return from cancer I routed for him (before that I thought he was flash and brash - incl. his triathlete days).

I did wear a livestrong band the year it was 'big' and even owned a Nike 'Lance 4' watch at one stage.

My favoritie team was always the USP or Discovery team too.

Slowly, over the last few years my view has changed. The 'comeback' made things worse in my mind. Can't put my finger on why but it just did.

There are still elements in the report, well in the bits I've read plus the things highlighted on SSN last night, that don't add up but overall it just looks SO bad. Most importantly SO bad on the sport I enjoy and love.

Last night I was going to read this month's Procycling but after watching the report on SSN I just wanted to leave cycling alone.

Things that don't add up?
What? No-one caught on to a guy on a motorbike visiting with a rucksack every few days? Really? Tour after Tour? With the press and the like so out to nail LA?

Also, make up over needle marks? Impressive make up given the volumes of fluid sweated.

But still, they are minor points compared to the bigger picture.

With so many doping at that time I have heard it argued that it was a level playing field at the top of the sport and where do you draw the line - how far down the results list? How far back in time?

BUT, this is different - its a culture through a team by the sound of it and an intimidating one at that for younger riders, etc.

I don't know what a 'good' outcome from all of this would be but if there is one, then lets hope that it happens.

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michophull [137 posts] 3 years ago
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Ok, so Armstrong was a serial doper. How then did he get around every dope test at every stage win in every race ?

At the height of his fame he was the most drug tested man in sport.  39

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NeilG83 [301 posts] 3 years ago
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_SiD_ wrote:

I'm finding it a bit convenient that those without a positive - Barry, Hincapie etc and others sufdenly stopped doping in 2006. It makes out that Armstrong was the architect of doping in pro cycling. It's preposterous.

I know UDADA's remit was doping on the USA team, but surely down the line someone will offer contradictory evidence post 2006 and the whole can of worms will reopen and the witnesses in the USADA case may look discredited.

I don't buy it.

I found that strange too, if you read the statements it looks as if a lot of riders were doping before Armstrong and Bruyneel joined the team and whilst some were encouraged to do start doping others like Leipheimer and Hincapie made the choice themselves.

What the evidence shows though is how organised it was ubder Armstrong and Bruyneel.

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dave atkinson [6251 posts] 3 years ago
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michophull wrote:

Ok, so Armstrong was a serial doper. How then did he get around every dope test at every stage win in every race ?

At the height of his fame he was the most drug tested man in sport.  39

you didn't read it then, no?

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dave atkinson [6251 posts] 3 years ago
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Super Domestique wrote:

With so many doping at that time I have heard it argued that it was a level playing field at the top of the sport

it certainly wasn't a level playing field: read Vaughter's affidavit about the different cultures at USPS/Discovery and ALM, for example

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Super Domestique [1605 posts] 3 years ago
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I agree Dave - but some have argued that which is all I was stating.

Have a look at the letters page in this month's Procycling to see the way opinions can be from one end of the scale to another.

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Alb [130 posts] 3 years ago
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All eyes now on the UCI. McQuaid to step down? Refreshed calls for a rival/alternative governing body/race series? Wishful thinking maybe...

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dullard [140 posts] 3 years ago
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@Mixte Rider

No, statements of this nature are very much allowed in any court - it's what evidence is very largely made up of, and don't forget that these statements must be sworn (hence 'affidavit' in the report), not just 'some bloke told me' stories after a couple of pints in the pub. And, if you turn out to have lied, you're guilty of perjury which (in the UK at any rate) is a prisonable offence. What weight this type of evidence is given depends on who gives it and how many others substantiate it and what their characters are; this is probably why George Hincapie's evidence is seen as a killer blow. I think that Hincapie gives direct testimony about Armstrong's doping in any case. Also remember that the civil burden of proof, 'on the balance of probabilities', is easily overcome here, particularly in view of Armstrong's refusal to present his own case against USADA's file.

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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Alb wrote:

All eyes now on the UCI. McQuaid to step down? Refreshed calls for a rival/alternative governing body/race series? Wishful thinking maybe...

How about "There used to be a problem with doping, but we're really really really getting to grips with it nowadays. All these allegations do is belittle the efforts the UCI is making. Let's draw a line under the past, and move forward"

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handlebarcam [716 posts] 3 years ago
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This could be devastating to... the environment. Think of all the landfill-space that discarded Livestrong bracelets are going to take up. That man really is a monster.

To be serious for a minute, I think the shear scale of the USPS doping operation, as set out in this report, will set a new precedent that will make future instances of one or two team members caught doping seem trivial - almost acceptable - by comparison.

In other words, even in retirement Lance Armstrong is fostering doping. Is there no limit to his evil powers!!?!?

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dullard [140 posts] 3 years ago
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_SiD_ wrote:

I'm finding it a bit convenient that those without a positive - Barry, Hincapie etc and others sufdenly stopped doping in 2006. It makes out that Armstrong was the architect of doping in pro cycling. It's preposterous.

I know UDADA's remit was doping on the USA team, but surely down the line someone will offer contradictory evidence post 2006 and the whole can of worms will reopen and the witnesses in the USADA case may look discredited.

I don't buy it.

You don't have to, you may not like it but it's head-in-sand time just to say it's preposterous and you don't buy it. That's a Verbruggen response. USADA's investigation was into Armstrong and those associated with his doping, not the 'USA team'. It doesn't make out that Armstrong was 'the architect of doping in pro cycling' - have you actually read it? It depicts in great detail and with evidence the systems, pogrammes, procedures, coercion and influence by which Armstrong and his teams doped with the connivance and complicity of those around him and his teams and in cycling more widely. And your point about somebody offering contradictory evidence post 2006 (why just post 2006?) which would discredit the USADA report, is just bizarre.

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zanf [859 posts] 3 years ago
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michophull wrote:

Ok, so Armstrong was a serial doper. How then did he get around every dope test at every stage win in every race ?

At the height of his fame he was the most drug tested man in sport.  39

Have you just come out of a coma or summink?

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Mat Brett [626 posts] 3 years ago
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michophull wrote:

Ok, so Armstrong was a serial doper. How then did he get around every dope test at every stage win in every race ?

At the height of his fame he was the most drug tested man in sport.  39

Wow!

Excellent point, michophull. Incidentally, I have a business venture you might be interested in. You need to forward some money into my Nigerian bank account so that we can together secure a consignment of gold...

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