Should the UCI have Disqualified Armstrong in 1999?

Le Monde made some serious allegations against the UCI yesterday. The French newspaper accuses cycling’s governing body of “covering for Lance Armstrong” and even alleges that they accepted a “falsified document” to help Armstrong escape a doping ban in 1999.

Some these tales have been doing the rounds before but paper published the documents relating to the controls in July 1999. Now a backdated and falsified document is a very serious charge. But I can reveal another document from 1999 that should have seen Armstrong ejected from the Tour de France: the UCI rulebook.

Let’s tell the story again. Back in 1999 corticosteroids were allowed for therapeutic reasons when applied locally, for example a rider could apply a cortisone cream to a saddle sore. But its abuse is banned, for example injecting corticosteroids into muscle tissue to relieve sore legs is doping. In order to accommodate the ambiguity the UCI rules in 1999 stated a rider had to declare whether they were using any substances on the anti-doping paperwork that was signed during the test procedure, for example “yes, I have a saddle sore and have taken Product XYZ” so  if the molecule showed up in the lab sample it could be explained for medical reasons.

This led to a grey area. One notorious French rider would rub rock salt into his scrotum – no kidding – until it was red and visit a doctor complaining of soreness from chafing shorts and so he could obtain a cortisone cream by prescription. Equipped with permission to use cortisone a cheating cyclist could then abuse it by injection and waive their prescription back at the anti-doping testers.

Armstrong 1999
In 1999 Lance Armstrong underwent several anti-doping controls and it emerged that he tested positive for cortisone four times during the race. Le Monde went to town during the race with this but the UCI fired back stating there was no concern as this was a case of therapeutic use and a prescription was presented. Here’s an excerpt of their press release:

Information on UCI anti-doping controls is based on two principles:

  • in the event of a positive result confirmed during a stage race, the information is given firstly to the rider and his team, and then to the media;
  • in the event of a positive result caused by medical treatment (to which every rider is entitled!), the UCI sees to it that medical secrecy is fully respected, ensuring that the data in question is kept confidential.

We confirm that the controls performed up to 19th July during the Tour de France have all produced negative results.

Without prejudice to the medical secrecy which the UCI fully wishes to maintain, but at the express request of Lance Armstrong and his team, taking into account the exceptional situation brought about by certain publications, the UCI is making an exception to this principle by confirming that:

the rider used the ointment Cemalyt (which contains triamcinolone) to treat a skin allergy.

The medical prescription has been shown to the UCI… … the UCI, after discussing the case with the competent French authorities, affirms in the strongest terms that such use is permitted by the rules, and therefore does not constitute any form of doping.

Only Le Monde has shown us the paperwork from the anti-doping control signed in triplicate by a doctor running the test, an anti-doping officer and Armstrong’s team manager Johan Bruyneel. And on médicaments pris (medicines taken) line is the handwritten néant or “nothing.” Therefore the testers were told there was no therapeutic use of cortisone.

Which brings us to the UCI’s rulebook. Here’s Article 43 from the UCI’s 1999 rulebook:

UCI anti doping rules 1999

I’ve highlighted the paragraph in the middle because this says if the rider fails to list a product like cortisone on the test paperwork then “the test result shall be considered as a positive and the rider shall be sanctioned even when he produces a medical certificate after the test.” In other words Le Monde’s claims of a falsified document and Lance Armstrong’s admissions of a backdated paperwork to Oprah Winfrey don’t even matter, the rider “shall be sanctioned even when he produces a medical certificate after the test”.

Oprah and Le Monde’s conspiracies
The UCI stated in its press release that “the medical prescription has been shown to the UCI” but we now know this was backdated. Here’s an excerpt of the transcript from the Oprah Winfrey interview with Armstrong:

Winfrey: “What about the story [masseuse] Emma O’Reilly tells about cortisone and you having cortisone backdated – is that true?
Armstrong: “That was true.”

It’s not clear if the UCI was complicit in this and knew the prescription was created ex post to justify the positive test. Le Monde seems to say this, writing “L’UCI a protégé le coureur en acceptant ce document falsifié” which translates as “the UCI protected the rider [Armstrong] by accepting this falsified paperwork.”

So what happened?
Only let’s forget Le Monde’s conspiracy allegations for a moment and look at the rules in black and white there. If the signed form read néant for declared medicines then the rules are clear, the rider is suspended.

I’m not the first to point this out. When this came out in 1999 Armstrong said he didn’t put a note on the paperwork because he didn’t think a cream was a medical product only the press pointed out Article 43 within days. More recently the story has been doing the rounds, for example, Gerard Vroomen blogged about this last October. But in the light of Le Monde’s allegations I wanted to dig up the rulebook to see for myself.

This caused a big stir in 1999 – we’re talking about the yellow jersey in a doping scandal –  and later the UCI explained events in greater detail in another press release. Here the UCI stated that the quantities found were small and therefore, in conjunction with the French sports ministry, that was “enough proof to suggest that the substance was administered in a non-prohibited method” stating that if the product was being injected then the Armstrong would have tested positive for several days in a row. Instead he tested positive four times over several days with some clean days in between. Only if the helpful hypothesis advanced by the UCI can explain things, the rulebook didn’t allow for debate over dosage, there was no threshold and the failure to declare the medicine meant Armstrong would be disqualified from the Tour de France and get a suspension for six months to one year.

Go back in time
We have a rider in yellow and a positive test thanks to a paperwork blunder. Be generous and imagine that Johan Bruyneel signed the form without knowing Armstrong had been given a saddle sore cream by a team soigneur. It’s 1999 and one year ago the Festina affair had almost stopped the Tour de France. Could the sport risk ejecting a rider from the race? All because someone messed up the paperwork? This would take the sport from tragedy to farce.

To get a feel for what it was like in 1999, read the Independent newspaper which explains how Armstrong won the race and “had to counter a spiteful media campaign” along the way. Armstrong won the day with the media but obviously now revealed to Oprah that things were fixed.

Inexcusable leniency or sensible pragmatism?
Is this inexcusable, did the UCI go easy on Armstrong? Or maybe leniency was tolerated back in those days? Maybe it was a sensible decision not to bust him because of a paperwork blunder? Judged against today’s standards something went wrong but 1999 was a very different place.

However what concerns me is that the press releases issued by the UCI and quoted above never cleared up the matter, for example debating the dosage whilst ignoring Article 43 or saying a prescription was supplied whilst again Article 43 says a prescription’s irrelevant. They have a story but didn’t explain why the UCI seemed to ignore its own rules. It’s as if a rider is being excused from the rules only there’s no provision for this.

Le Monde have made serious allegations against the UCI it’s conduct in the past. This is no cheap tabloid, it’s France’s establishment newspaper and we’ll see if the UCI is moved to deny the allegations, after all they were quick to claim vindication following the Oprah Winfrey interview despite the admission of a backdated prescription during the show. Perhaps they will sue the newspaper?

But tales of fake documents and conspiracy theories are one thing. The published rulebook is another. Le Monde doesn’t even need to talk about faked documents when the UCI’s own rulebook said at the time Armstrong should been stopped.

With today’s hindsight many will say the UCI should have acted all those years ago, after all what good is a governing body that can’t apply its own rules? Yet things were so very different in 1999. Most of the media at the time seemed to buy into the dosage hypothesis, hypnotised by Armstrong’s press conference chutzpah and the last thing the sport, including the UCI, needed was yet more scandal. There were cautionary voices but they were ignored.

If you were running the UCI what would you have done?

59 thoughts on “Should the UCI have Disqualified Armstrong in 1999?”

  1. “If you were running the UCI what would you have done?”

    Let’s look at this another way, if the UCI caught a small time rider at the back of the race what would THEY have done?

    • That’s speculative, no? Unless someone small was caught (I haven’t checked).

      Good point although the piece above is there to say we don’t need to speculate with too many wild theories as the plain humble rulebook seems to have been skipped.

        • I couldn’t remember and looked it up. He told the testers he was using cortisone but when his Lampre team heard they said they didn’t know and sacked him and so he was thrown out of the race. Tour director J-M Leblanc said there was “no other choice but to expel their rider after he admitted taking drugs. Morally it was no longer acceptable for him to participate“.

          An interesting comparison because the rider admitted it was for health races… but could not show a prescription. So it’s not identical but Dierckxens gets thrown overboard.

    • Maybe they could do what they are attempting in the Hoste case announced today. Beat up on a weakened or minor violator for bragging purposes:

      “The UCI has announced that Belgium’s Leif Hoste is under investigation for violating the UCI Biological Passport programme. The UCI has requested the Belgian National Cycling Federation (RLVB) handle the investigation and give Hoste any eventual sanction.”

      Bully for the Bullies (UCI). Pick on a retired guy with a likely modest amount of resources and graft-based connections to offer a reasonable defense. Take credit for snagging a doper, and punch way below your weight. Bravo UCI.

      The major difference appears is that the UCI has always been too cowardly or more likely too “bought” by the Armstrong Empire to every consider trying to net the big fish. 🙂

  2. Thanks especially for the link back to 1999’s Indpendent.
    Your final sentence is the key question. Without wanting to excuse any misdeeds, often worth remembering that people like Pat and Hein (and this can go for many other politicians or “leaders”) are just averagely intelligent guys trying to do their best .

    • I have to agree. Again without excusing any misdeeds, they were set to task on maintaining a multinational, multimillion dollar sport, with a rising star from a market (the U.S.) that hadn’t tuned in for the Tour de France in nearly a decade.

      One year after Festina nearly derailed with whole show, why would they cut their own feet off, spite Americans, and make a complete and total mockery of their sport over what appeared at the time as a paperwork miscommunication? Not only are cyclists dirty cheats, but unintelligent as well, risking their careers because they didn’t understand how to file basic paperwork.

      • Your question goes to the entire reason the UCI supported Armstrong from the beginning – the lucrative US market. More Americans interested in cycling means more power for the UCI.
        It’s always about the money……………

  3. Putting this incident into context is key, and in doing so, I can understand why UCI would have bent their own rules to avoid the black eye of a yellow jersey being thrown off the race the year after Festina. What doesn’t total for me is their stubborn refusal to re-evaluate their position toward Armstrong as further abuses of the rules surfaced. In effect, they had this cortico-steroid violation in their pocket. They could certainly have used it to peg Armstrong back officially when the Tour of Switzerland positive happened. Instead they doubled down on protecting him, when it should have been clear he was a bad actor. We can judge this particular incident in retrospect and come down on either side, though the rules are clear, as you point out, but my issue is that this incident is merely part of a pattern of UCI behavior that suggests they were always more keen on covering up doping problems than confronting them.

    • Let’s say you and the rider know he should be banned. But you bend your own rules and don’t ban him. That makes it very difficult to ban him later, as the rider has you by the balls. If you bring him down, he’ll expose your earlier transgressions. Standard movie script stuff, or not?

      It’s one of the reasons nothing ever moves in cycling, it’s 3,000 cases of mutual annihilation all bound together into one sport.

        • Gerard and Theo – I agree with you. My intention was not to map a course from my own coordinates, but rather to try to see it through their eyes. We all know that, once you depart from your rules, you very quickly lose control of your competition. My point was that, once they chose to abet the crime, they never pulled back. Even if you give them the benefit of the doubt on the steroid exemption (which I wouldn’t have done), then you’ve got to see (if you care about the rules) that your tolerance gained you nothing, once further crimes come to light. I don’t agree that he had them by the balls, unless there is documentation of their complicity. Any organization can hide behind defense of incompetence or inconsistency if they decide to start enforcing their rules again, UNLESS there is clear evidence of actual complicity, say a communication between UCI and the rider. Otherwise, they just passed on every opportunity to sanction him because, at root, they had no interest in enforcing the rules, which, in the end, is what I believe is the truth.

      • I was there back in 1999 and remember the initial announcement about BigTex. “Uh-oh, there goes another one, this time an American” we all said. It was a big surprise when the decision was made to let Tex continue, even though the story about the fake RX was already circulating. I think the UCI and the rest of the officials were so eager to turn the page on the Festina fiasco they jumped at a chance, no matter how flimsy to let Tex off the hook – his comeback from cancer story was just what they were looking for. They weren’t going to let something they could easily dismiss derail the latest “clean era of cycling. I think even Tex and his associates were slightly surprised by this and then thought they could pretty much get away with anything as Gerard has suggested. And if Tex hadn’t stirred things up with his hubristic comeback I believe all this would have remained a dirty little secret. One wonders how many other dirty little secrets are out there that may never emerge? It’s clear a thorough house-cleaning is needed at UCI, after every scandal all they’ve done is take measures to distract the public from the reality. Mr. Mars himself explained to Dick Pound that he wasn’t interested in ridding the sport of doping based on a claim the public wouldn’t accept the TdF being run off at an average speed of 25 kph vs the 40+ of the EPO era. I find this very hard to understand when the majority of the fans are on the mountain climbs (or tune in on TV when the race is in the mountains) where the speeds are the slowest.

      • Gerard, I’d’ve thought it was the other way around, that UCI had Lance by the balls. If there’s any later violation, UCI suspends, and if there’s any fuss from Lance, UCI shares the back-dated cortisone prescription as proof of a pattern of misbehavior.
        And from the other POV, it’s hard to imagine Lance, or any rider, publically fighting a suspension by claiming that “I also broke the rules earlier”.

        I do, though, find the “mutual annihilation” comment an apt, and sad, summary of the current state of men’s road cycling.

  4. Thom Weisel (Tailwind Sports owner of USPS cycling team) buys off the UCI with help of Jim Ochowicz consul and thus for the next 6 years after 1999 the UCI was in on “the fixed game” worth hundreds of millions of dollars/euros to both parties. In Hein Verbruggen’s mind he thinks he is saving the sport from it’s dopage ghosts and gaining I would bet secret massive amounts of “cayman island cash” in return? Lance knows he can do no wrong – knowing when doping controls will arrive and how to avoid positives… at least until 2001 Tour du Suisse positive test happens and then more money is wired into the UCI to support the corruption via Weisel (and I would think Nike-Trek and others). When Armstrong makes his comeback I would think that wasn’t apart of the agreement and thus you start to see the fracturing of the lie or you Lance thinking he is larger than the sport so the other riders/sponsors he used need to obey all mighty King Lance ? But in 2009-10 we see that Lance was the type of average rider he was all along when not on the top secret AMGEN super-pharma and other blood bag methods. Although the USADA data suggest blood bags during both TDFs?

  5. Completely agree with Toe Strap.

    In those days everyone, especially the sportsmedia, was wowed by his performance and welcoming this great story. His story of saddle sore could also easilly have been true. Had that been the case, what would have been our opinion then? Stripping a cancer-survivor of his yellow yersey? Wow, that would have been harsh…

    I remember that some teams in 1999 did not even bring their doctor with them after what happened in 1998. Just remember those riders, doctors and directors in prison? So the bravado alone to use doping in the way Armstrong apparently did, looks for me in hindsight mindboggling. In those day’s one of the lines I used was: ‘it just cannot be true that after 1998 and after him fighting cancer, he is using doping in the 1999 Tour’.

    If that was your mindset in 1999, then of course as a governing body you are easily tempted to believe a story Armstrong comes op with about his saddle sore cream. Especially when it was known in those days that many medical or pharmaceutical products and supplements were contaminated. One example I am aware of, was the contamination of tooth paste .

    For me – in hindsight – the story is not that the UCI didn’t follow their own rules, but that the international media didn’t put much more pressure on UCI and ASO to follow those rules. They all believed or wanted to believe Armstrong and it seems their readers just didn’t want Armstrong to be stopped.

    • Thanks. I’d also add the cortisone test came in right before the 1999 Tour and could have caught a few by surprise. Your last paragraph it up, I’d be interested to know why the media didn’t push more.

      I guess there were no bloggers to bore on about it back then either.

  6. Oh by the way.

    Just read that Hein Verbruggen acknowledges that since 2001 the UCI warned riders when their blood values were ‘suspicious’ i.e ‘not normal’. Note that he is not saying that they tested ‘positive’. Karsten Kroon, Hamilton, Rasmussen and Armstrong were among the riders that were called upon about their ‘suspicious levels’.

  7. As a casual fan who loves the sport, but hates all the internal bs, I always come back to one question:

    How do we get the UCI out of the way?

    These are people who profited off of Lance’s ‘perfect lie.’ Can another governing body take over? The Olympic people? The more I hear about what the UCI tolerated, the more I think just about anyone could do a better job. Bring in an outsider who isn’t tainted by cycling’s past.

    • Tracey Gaudry, new UCI board member for Oceania. Ex female pro racer (not the best, which to me is a good sign) and has been CEO of Australia’s biggest cyclists’ lobby group/Gran Fondo organisers The Amy Gillett Foundation (named after Australian pro who was killed when run down by a car training uin Germany).

      There’s the future of the sport right there, or another wasted opportunity…

      • PS. Gaudry is a regular rider on weekends in Melbourne amongst the many thousands of Beach Road packs of hacks, rather than just the VIP tent at the club races etc. I’ve seen her stopped at the lights chatting to other riders many times. Compare that with McQuaid etc…

  8. What we witnessed in 1999 was the birth of the UCI’s golden goose………Lance Armstrong.
    They saw then the potential value of LA in opening up the US cycling market, and a little double dealing wasn’t going to stand in the way of promoting a story like that.

  9. I wish I could find the clip of Armstrong being interviewed about this. His response was something like
    “Yeah, I’ve got saddle sores–really big ones!” and then laughing wildly. Seemed inappropriate at the time.

    • The more famous quote was to the Le Monde journalist:

      Armstrong described himself as “persecuted” and a victim of “vulture journalism.” He singled out Le Monde… … “I made a mistake in taking something I didn’t consider to be a drug,” he said, referring to what he called “a topical cream” for a skin rash. “When I think of taking something, I think of pills, inhalers, injections,” he said. “I didn’t consider skin cream ‘taking something.'”

      Defending him, the International Cycling Union said today that he had used the salve Cemalyt “to treat a skin allergy” and had presented a medical prescription to justify its use.

      “After discussion with French authorities,” the organization said, “we declare with the greatest firmness that this was a use authorized by the rules and does not therefore constitute doping.”

      At his news conference, Armstrong was pressed by a reporter from Le Monde, an authoritative and respected daily newspaper. Its reporters have been refused interviews by officials of the United States Postal Service, Armstrong’s team, with the explanation that the paper’s goals were not the team’s.

      Le Monde’s reporter asked why the race leader denied this week that he had presented a medical certificate to justify the use of a banned substance. “Are you calling me a liar or a doper?” Armstrong asked in his only flash of anger. He then said that he had made a mistake in making the earlier denial.


      I wonder if the media beyond Le Monde and a handful of others had pushed on this point or if they were under the spell already and didn’t want to ask too many awkward questions?

  10. While this is a flagrant disregard of their own rules, the UCI continued this pattern with Armstrong.

    Let us not forget that the UCI shortened his required period of ineligibility (albeit only modestly) for competition (as he had to have 6 months under the ADAMS whereabouts program prior to resuming competition) when he announced his comeback, allowing him to compete in the 2009 Tour Down Under. Let us also not forget that the rumored $1 – 2 million appearance fee Armstrong received was an unprecedented sum.

    While in and of itself, this isn’t necessarily a scandal, as it was done in public. but taken in the context of other incidents, clearly shows a pattern of favorably biased treatment to say the least.

  11. Fool us once , shame on yOU ! Fool us twice , shame on US !
    Yes , UCI , is still trying to fool the public ! Wonder how they got on today , whilst they tried to keep the ” Panel of UCIIC ” on the original ” T of R ” ?
    Remember being in the centre of an Italian City , during a Grand Tour and coming across Ludo , together with the ” DS ” , driving around in a Team s/wagon , looking for the Dentist . Now we ALL know how troubling teeth can be ?
    Mc Shaid is about to find his head served to him , some time soon . He may not have been Numero Uno then , but he is now !

    If the ” UCIIC ” , do not consider this Event , worthy of a complete investigation , then they will score a ” fail ” on their report card !

    Time the Swiss Authorities let the public know the results of the ” Paul Kimmage Complaint ” , me thinks ?

    There can’t be any truth , in this report , surely ?

    It was his way of ” Calling Racers in to discuss their ” Blood Passport anomalies “?

    Oh sure , a friendly face to face , because the phones could be tapped ?

    My blogs pointed to a Verbruggen connection to Weisel , now we have this item reported this week :

    ” Hein Verbruggen confirms in the interview that Thomas Weisel Partners managed some of his assets from 2001-2004. Weisel was the co-owner of Armstrong’s USPostal team and one of the business partners of Armstrong. Verbruggen says he didn’t know about that. ‘But even if I had known, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.’

    Difficult to find an edge in the Investment Community , Hein , or you didn’t have access to the Yellow Pages ? Perhaps you can turn over , ALL documents supporting your transactions , including ANY loss making decisions ?

  12. My first thought was to look at the rules to see if they were excessive or inappropriate, here is what I found …
    Article 43 has changed since 1999 to encompass a process under the Standard Use Exemption procedure, covered under Chapter IV from Articles 24-73. This process includes reporting dose, frequency and duration, which indicates that there was some need for altering the previous rules. I won’t speculate on the reason/s, I’m sure people can decide for themselves.
    Following is article 50 from the rule book …
    Abbreviated Therapeutic Use Exemption procedure
    50. A notification for a TUE will not be considered for retroactive approval except in cases where:
    – emergency treatment or treatment of an acute medical condition was necessary, or
    – due to exceptional circumstances, there was insufficient time or opportunity for a Rider to submit, or the UCI to receive, the application prior to the Rider’s participation in any Event.

  13. Is this any different from the situation we have today where a number of riders have prescriptions for asthma inhalers? Armstrong was no worse than his contempararies. Everyone, please move on – this is so dull. Drugs or not – he was still a great champion.
    Incidentally, is anyone campaigning for Mercx to have his titles stripped? Didn’t he test positive once? Shouldn’t all titles be stripped prior to 2005 as there was such a drug taking culture?

    • Careful, is this trolling? The “is Lance a champ” argument is a bit old now.

      I put the piece to show an example of the UCI’s conduct to look at. Also I wanted to follow-up the Le Monde piece to say that whilst they might allegations of suspicious documents, the rulebook was there in black and white but few ever stopped to ask questions about this.

    • DG
      Can we benefit from your employee ID# and for which Lance Armstrong affiliated organization you are employed.,, Mellow Johnny’s, etc?

    • Merckx tested positive three times throughout his career, actually. And Armstrong issues also bore me to death. But this 1999 incident is really interesting and deserves attention right now. Inrng is right to research it, and Verbruggen should be questioned by WADA about it, publicly.

  14. Thanks for the excellent research IR. Nobody should be in the least surprised about a few more details of the corruption of the UCI. No point in an endless discusion, the facts speak for themselves and are probably the tip of a huge iceberg I hope Paul Kimmage has his day in court to shed more light on these matters. Its time for one huge clear out – but not IOC involvement please kd, don’t even go there.

  15. The 1999 positive, like the six month exemption, illustrates the catch-22 of sport governance: a duty to promote and police. In 1999, perhaps it was pragmatism in the face of poorly written rules…but the pattern is damning from 2013. Promotion and policing ought be distinct functions of distinct entities.

  16. So… the UCI wanted to save face in 1999 by not having a ‘drugs scandal’ involving the yellow jersey. They broke their own rules and thereby allowed the start of the biggest scandal to hit the sport – bigger than Festina. How short sighted was that?

    They should have stuck to their rules and suspended Armstrong. They could have explained that it was due to misplaced paperwork etc… to diminsh the scandal – but it would have proved their commitment to anti-doping which in the long run would have been seen as a positive by the media.

  17. Looking back I see a pattern of tolerance from UCI toward Lance and many others. They were tipped about suspicious activities not once, not twice, not three or even four times. And every time they chose to look the other way and ignore. Worse, they got into Lance’s tactics and started putting the wistleblowers to the sides.

    Not a single of these stories prompted an investigation or even further inquiries. Corruption, conveniency, lazyness, whatever – they were NOT doing their job and this is scandalous, unnaceptable, intolerable in itself and by itself, whichever way we look at it. It’s clearly smelly to say the least, these godfathers should go now along Lance. But exiting UCI is not enough anymore imho, they should all go to jail.

  18. You all would make a hell of a law partners for a international sports law firm.

    I notice that LA/UCI stories get a rate of discussion that far exceeds other posts! Excluding post topics during the Grand Tours.

    Keep up the good work.

  19. I have the responsibility of enforcing a code, local laws, and I’ll put it this way. There are certain parts that I know I can’t work around for the sake of pragmatism, 99% let’s say. But once in awhile you look at something and have to try and make an exception. These rules we cling to can seem awfully arbitrary, and even the appeal processes can be overly burdensome. So I can understand some bending in the light of a reasonable and accepted exception. Especially in1999 in this case. However, the real q then becomes, why wasn’t the UCI more diligent FOR SEVEN YEARS STRAIGHT. I wouldn’t dwell too much on this one incident, but rather why didn’t they connect the dots later on? Also, how bad could they have looked “picking” on someone looking for some saddlesore relief? If I could have I would have avoided that too, once anyway, and just rolled dice on how bad those with a motive would publicize it.

  20. This really supports the argument that dope testing needs to be taken out of the control of a sports governing body and instead handled only by independent doping authorities. Otherwise vested interests to always try to present your sport in the best light will inevitably lead to bending of the rule books.

    • Ignoring some pretty tawdry work by certain individuals, conflicting interests is a key issue here. The UCI should be running the sport, not policing (& certainly not “managing” ) anti-doping. Its like the separation of powers of state & justice principle which most functioning democracies are based on. Sadly, it looks to me like there is a small inner circle which runs things and pays passing respect to the rules. Particularly when an Inconvenient Truth is involved.

  21. Funny that G. Vroomen mentioned “movie script” in his comment above: just read today’s local newspaper (in Korea!?) that Paramount just bought movie rights to Juliet Mascur’s book on LA. Stars being considered for the role of Lance: Matt Damon or Matthew McConnaughy. Impossible to make this stuff up…life is truly stranger than fiction, I guess.

  22. INRNG – in the Le Monde article it shows a scan of Rapport D’analyse No 06/07 and there is another positive test on there 185559 – I’ve tried to find out who that was. Any clues, or is it that each number refers to a different test on LA’s blood?

  23. If you were running the UCI what would you have done?

    This wasn’t a one off of the UCI overlooking some paperwork. Remember that the Verbruggen tenure of the UCI was from 1991 to 2005, a period where the sport was mired in doping. Overlooking such an infraction was par for the course.

    The comments above are spot on – Lance was a gateway into a previously untapped golden vein. Just like the $3 Million dollars paid by the Japanese as reimbursements for UCI “expenses”.

    Time for a well overdue clear out.

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