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Blog: Armstrong and Catlin stop before they start

Blog: Armstrong and Catlin stop before they start

Forests have already been felled and a zillion innocent pixels, er zapped bringing you the news that Lance Armstrong and Don Catling the UCLA drug-testing expert have agreed to end their independent doping program before it started. So what do a few more matter!

Just in case you've been locked in a cupboard for the last 24 hours I might as well throw my two penn'orth in, and point you at the choicest opinions aired on the matter so far.

According to Catlin, speaking to the New York Times contracts were never signed and no testing had taken place. That fact was immediately seized on by Armstrong sceptics such as Phillip Hersh of the LA Times, (for even more scecticsm check out Steroid Nation) as was the revelation that one of the reasons for not proceeding was cost… despite the fact that Armstrong is undoubtedly one of the richest athletes in the world.

However the other reason given by Armstrong's agent, Bill Stapleton, does seem perfectly valid: the independent doping program that was planned called for testing every three days, but Armstrong was also being tested randomly by the US anti doping agency, and the UCI, and his team. Catling made this point too and while he stopped short of saying that 'there's only so much blood in his arm' he did point out that all the testers risked tripping over each other, and possibly invalidating each other's tests.

So there you have it, lots of trees and pixels are dead and we are no further forward than we were before, Lance Armstrong still suffers from a credibility gap with some while others will point out that he is going to be the most tested cyclist on the planet for as long as he rides a bike for money. Armstrong has posted all his test data since his comeback on the Livestrong website. Oh and you can watch Lance having a pop back at Paul Kimmage here.

Strangely the one person who hasn't been mentioned in all this is Greg Lemond, the man most entitled to be saying 'I told you so' right now. He was our hero of the week back in October when he dared to raise doubts about the whole exercise when Armstrong and Catlin announced it at the Interbike show in Vegas, great pics from Mr Chipps Chippendale who was in the room, (hit the link and scroll down past the French bloke trying to pedal a balloon across the channel) and then check out the interview Lemond gave to the Fredcast straight after.

One final note, we've been following Lance Armstrong's twitter feed for the last couple of week, like thousands of others, I checked back and can find no tweets along the lines of “meeting with Don… it's just not going to work out”… or even “meeting Don” so not everything goes on there then, or maybe I didn't look hard enough, which is possible.

All right, a final, final note: in case you're wondering whether I'm an Armstrong sceptic or a true believer…  the answer is neither.

Weigh it up on one side he might have doped, and he must have been some rider to beat all those dopers who finished behind him in the top 10 at the 2005 Tour, (interesting fact © R. Lampard). On the other he has done a vast amount to raise money and awareness for the fight against cancer. It's not like he simply took the money and ran.

Which is a convoluted way of saying let's get some perspective. Maybe Lance is a bad man, but if he's a bad man that's done good - that's still doing good.

Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.

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