Sometimes a subject is too long for Twitter but too short for a full post on here. So here are two related questions.
First, Tyler Hamilton. If he’s confessed to doping with US Postal, what can he tell us about CSC and Phonak? Let’s not forget Hamilton almost lost his Olympic medal back 2004 but laboratory bungling saw the B sample frozen by accident and he slipped through the net. At the time he was with the US squad but what can he tell us of his time at CSC and Phonak. It is somewhat hard to imagine he was riding clean with these teams, after all he was banned in 2006 after a positive test in the Vuelta a Espana. If he’s confessed to doping at US Postal on TV, then will he explain more about what happened at the other teams he rode for? Certainly he’s been extensively linked to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes.
Second, is the UCI’s response to Tyler Hamilton’s apparent allegations of a cover-up in Switzerland resulting from “suspicious” samples from Lance Armstrong. The governing body “categorically rejects the allegations made by Mr Tyler Hamilton, who claims that Lance Armstrong tested positive for EPO during the 2001 Tour of Switzerland“… except this might not have happened.
Let’s note that a positive test is a specific, defined term that normally applies when both A and B samples indicate the presence of a banned substance. It would be near-impossible to suppress this. But consider an imaginary situation when the A sample looks suspicious and gives rise to an “adverse analytical finding” and the athlete is notified before proceeding to the B test, in this case it might just be possible to squash the story. After all, if Tyler Hamilton’s sample from the 2004 Olympics was accidentally destroyed after a lab worker mistakenly froze it, what chance someone “accidentally” destroyed a sample from the 2001 Tour de Suisse?
That’s hypothetical and indeed conspiratorial but Landis and Hamilton both suggest there’ s been a conspiracy. My concern is that the UCI’s language means its recent press release could be denying something that didn’t happen, namely a formal positive test. Instead it could be a borderline case rather than a full A+B sample positive. In this case we’ve got both sides making accusation and denial via the media but not quite getting to the heart of the matter.
Also if the UCI statement makes a powerful denial but I’m unsure just how much of an investigation there’s been. Staff present in the organisation today weren’t necessarily there in 2001 and I’d be more reassured if they announced they’d got some outside investigators to help them get rid of these allegations. The trouble is that large sections of the media don’t have a great deal of confidence in the UCI and some third-party verification might help.
If Hamilton has given an account of his time at US Postal, what of his time at CSC and Phonak? This would be a good time to clear up matters from Operation Puerto. If he saw Lance Armstrong use EPO, what did he see other riders do whilst on other teams.
Plus if the UCI issues a firm denial, I’m not sure how much they’ve investigated the allegations and whether talk of a formal positive test is appropriate, given correspondence from the lab in question and the US Anti-Doping Agency seemingly does not refer to a positive test but merely to “suspicious” results in line with EPO use.
Once again we get press releases and confessions but far from settling matters, it only gives rise to more questions.