Question A, question B

Sometimes a subject is too long for Twitter but too short for a full post on here. So here are two related questions.

Tyler Hamilton CSC Phonak

Other teams
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.

Media tennis
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.

15 thoughts on “Question A, question B”

  1. I do hope the true picture of CSC and Phonak emerge. It will be messy but ultimately it’s needed. It doesn’t look like Tyler is trying to throw Lance to the wolves alone.

    Switzerland is an interesting case. If there was a cover up, I feel a lab employee might start to talk soon because of the way things are going. And the UCI need to recognise the truth, whatever that may be, will come out eventually.

  2. Hamilton drugabuse during the years he rode for CSC and Phonak is well documented already as the files from Fuentes’ clinic revealed how he prepared for the season in 2003 and 2004. Basicually he continued blooddoping, EPO, testosterone and HGH. Riis has also commented on the fact that one of his ex-riders were so deeply involved in a Spanish witchdoctor’s guidance. But Riis stated in the autumn 2006 to Danish newpapers that he had absolutely no knowledge of Hamiltons “preparations”.

  3. Once Hamilton began to ‘prepare correctly’ while at USPS he realised what could be achieved.
    When he then decided to leave the team for his own GC ambitions, its realistic to assume,
    he did so with an understanding that to be competitive at the TdF he would need a team
    with similar outlook.

    CSC – Riis comments are similar to above postings – well documented elsewhere.
    Phonak – Urs Freuler / Andy Rihs / Jim Ochowicz / Robert Lelangue.

    1. sacrificial lamb,
    2.businessman with selective hearing,
    3.’connected networker’ who understands finance, transfers & Swiss banking,
    4.token historical ‘muppet’ well connected.

    as much credibility as Manuael from Fawlty Towers – ‘i know nothing’

  4. I too saw the UCI statement and thought it was denying something that nobody said happened. It’s like the “what, in 2006” denial used by Oscar Pereiro.

  5. The entire UCI statement was disgraceful. If Armstrong’s house of cards collapses it seems probable the UCI will collapse as well, as it is absolutely aligned with Armstrong.

  6. Regarding the donations to the UCI from Lance Armstrong ;

    Why did it take so long for these donations to be made public? The money was pledged in 2001/2002 but not made public knowledge until much later, at least 2005, and then only after some questioning of the UCI.

    Also the first donation of $25000 was from Armstrong’s personal account, why not from his business account? Again this might be innocent but in the circumstances it also hints that the private payment was made to so it would not show up in any scrutiny of Lance’s business interests.

    Also as the donation was made to help fund dope testing so why wouldn’t Lance and the UCI want to make this public at the time and demonstrate Lance’s commitment to the anti-doping cause? Why keep it so secret?

    To me this all seems very strange…..

  7. I found the TV interview a little annoying because it seemed like Tyler genuinely wanted to talk about the corrupt culture in the sport, while the interviewer wanted to talk about Lance. I’m going to assume that’s why we didn’t hear about CSC and Phonak. I suppose it’s not surprising, as the American public doesn’t particularly care about anything other than Lance.

    I’d also like an insider’s perspective on whether the blood passport has changed things. Unfortunately, Hamilton’s career was more or less over by the time that came around, so I’m not sure he could provide much insight. Maybe someday George will talk to the media about that…

  8. It does seem that if Tyler is really out to save cycling he would toss everyone under the bus not just Lance. A huge list of riders, doctors, suppliers, directors, etc… would surely provide more evidence against Lance, the UCI and everyone else involved. Lance is one of the only known names in the U.S. but certainly not in France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Spain and everywhere else cycling is popular.

  9. Just a small correction — Tyler was riding for Phonak in 2004 when he rode the Olympics (and had been with CSC before then). He left USPS in 2001.

  10. Tyler tested positive for blood doping at the 2004 Vuelta for blood doping. That same Vuelta, Santiago Perez of Phonak also tested positive for blood doping. Sounds to me like they got their blood bags mixed up (or Santiago Perez is Hamilton’s long lost twin), which suggests a doping program at Phonak.

  11. Phonak? That team was a mess or their doctor was a drunk Mr Magoo. How many positives did they have? Oh course that was well before teams got their act together and starting doing internal ‘controls’. Which seems to be working out fine so far for a few of them. Every now and someone gets sloppy, but thats only human and it must be a pain to play cops and robbers all the time. Seems like controls are the new organised doping within teams.

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