Is This Lance Armstrong’s Year?

The wheels seem to have come off the Tour de France. This year’s race, with a ceremonial start in London, is of course absent the retired Lance Armstrong, whom Americans learned to love and the French grew to hate in seemingly direct proportion. But the race this year is also missing Floyd Landis, last year’s disgraced winner, as well as Ivan Basso (suspended) and Jan Ulrich (implicated in doping, and then retired). Former champion Bjarne Riis admitted that he was doping when he won the Tour in 1996, but his admission came after the expiration of the 8-year statute of limitations for taking back the yellow jersey.


We’ve blogged in the past about doping and cycling (see here and here, among others), but by now it’s getting pretty hard to claim that you’re clean and keep a straight face doing so.

Here’s my question: given what we know and don’t know about Armstrong, and the many doping allegations made and disproved, will there come a time in the future when Armstrong either admits to doping or is proved beyond reasonable doubt to have doped?

David Walsh, a controversial cycling journalist, has just published a book on the subject in the U.S. (it came out a couple years ago in Europe) in which he argues forcefully that Armstrong is guilty. These are not new claims, and so far the issue doesn’t seem to have gained much traction here. But I would be very surprised if Armstrong were not subjected to at least one more round of hardcore scrutiny before he is allowed ride off into the sunset, his seven jerseys still pristine.


The evidence against Lance is circumstantial and probabilistic. From a probabilistic standpoint, it seems unlikely that he could be so much better than a bunch of other people who were cheating.

But there's no smoking gun, Lance didn't fail any doping tests, and there's the matter of that big bonus he got for winning so many TdF's -- which the insurer tried to avoid paying on doping grounds. If he admitted something later, would he have to give that money back?

So, my guess is that he will admit nothing, ever.

Likewise, I don't think anything will be "proven beyond a reasonable doubt".

Complicating this is the whole chemotherapy thing -- might we later find out that some portion of this regimen gave him a big advantage later? Unlikely, but possible.


Armstrong is a genetic freak. Biking against him is like playing hide and seek against Nightcrawler. Normal humans can't compete.



Complicating this is the whole chemotherapy thing — might we later find out that some portion of this regimen gave him a big advantage later?

It did but only in the sense that he lost upper body mass which is not needed and unwanted by competitors at the top level.

Look here you yankee upstarts...after his third win, Lance was the most scrutinized, tested, and followed fellow in cycling. Why did everyone else test positive except for Lance?

The real reason for his victories and dominance of the sport is perhaps much simpler. Let's face it. The europeans are lay-abouts. That's why we love them. That's why we love their cities. That's why we love their transportation systems.

They are not dog-eat-dog, kill them all and let god sort them out kind of people. Oh...believe me...they were in their past. But after two world wars, they are taking it easy for a while.

Now here comes the good ole US of A in the form of one Lance Armstrong with determination, desire, ability, training year round, expensive computer biometrics, new equipment, and the money from endorsements to buy the best back up team.

Lance who trained 12 months a year was the right person at the right time to dominate a sport full of 6 month training european slackers.

Why do you try to make this so hard?


Bob Dowling

Why is every one so obsessed with claims that Armstrong took drugs. There is no evidence tying him to drugs at all, and I think it is purely anti-American hysteria on the part of the French.

Armstrong survived chemotherapy, a cocktail of the least pleasant medicines known to medical science. As he said himself, do you really think he's going to mess with banned drugs after that?

Landis' positive test for testosterone is incredibly dubious as well, but that's a different rant.

Why do people have it in for American cyclists?

(ps: I'm not an American.)


I've witnessed Lance Armstrong getting a question along the lines of "have you *ever* taken *any* performance enhancing drug?" and I've seen him refuse to answer. From that restrictive kind of question, I got the impression that Lance used steroids to rebuild muscle mass after his chemo, back in the late 90s, but well before his TdF bids, but doesn't want to mention it publicly because people would naturally assume he kept doing it. I have lots of non-athlete friends that have gotten prescribed steroids when recuperating from an injury or illness.

So I think he's clean, but used some stuff for medical reasons on his way back into racing ten years ago.


Armstrong recently gabbed to about said book. At this point, I really don't know if he (or Landis) were clean. However, he did point out the outcry from the NFL, MLB, etc. that would be heard if they were subjected to the same doping control protocols (i.e. random, out-of-season testing) as cyclists.

Would the crew be willing to look at the cost implications for owners and teams if such standards were imposed? Injured players (and those who only hit singles instead of home runs) don't help ticket sales.


as a former cyclist who only took part in a few races, I can't claim to be an expert on the issue. However, it doesn't take a lot of athletic ability to be good at cycling. It takes a lot of energy and the ability to process it fast, consume more oxygen, and recover very quickly.

In short, the one event that you could conceive of that would be ideal for consumers of EPO, HGH, anabolic steroids, blood doping, etc would be the Tour de France. You are a much better cyclist with these drugs than without them - there is no debate. At least in baseball, football, etc - it requires some sort of innate athletic ability.

i.e. Barry Bonds didn't become an amazing hitter due to steroids - he already was an amazing hitter. drugs just made him hit more home runs. drugs can't teach a running back how to read a defense better. with cycling, you can create an amazing distance cyclist with just drugs and training.

This is why it is impossible for me to (1) take cycling seriously at all anymore and (2) believe that someone who could win 7 TdFs with tons of drug abusing athletes around him wasn't taking drugs himself. Literally, all of Armstrong's contemporaries have now been busted - several of his former teammates have been busted - where there is smoke....



The French hatred of Armstrong is a figment of the imagination of the American media. French MEDIA on the other hand is a different story. Like American media, they'll do whatever it takes to sell copy.

Anyone riding the Tour is a genetic freak.

As for his "most tested athlete in the history of sport"- that's clearly false. Tested often, yes, but athletes (including other cyclists) who compete for the full season are going to naturally get tested more often.


Comment #6 is correct. Cycling has shot itself in the foot to the point that if you excel in the sport, even Economics sites and reporters will assume you doped.
Really though, anyone who can't watch cycling because of the doping shouldn't be watching any sport. Maybe golf. But they make up for it with race and gender discrimination. Table tennis?


Lance Armstrong was in a unique position: recovering from what very possibly could have been terminal cancer. He was absolutely using a cornucopia of medications. They just weren't on the banned list.

I wish that Lance could be offered immunity so that he could fully discuss just what medications he was taking and when. I have numerous friends and relatives who have battled cancer who would settle for the strength and stamina to live an ordinary life, let alone be able to ride a bike up l'Alpe d'Huez. He performed an extraordinary feat in his cancer recovery, and it's a real shame that the negative scrutiny and cries of "Unfair drug use" will keep the details from people who could greatly benefit: cancer patients.


lance's jerseys are anything but pristine. At least Bjarne Riis had the decency to tell the truth. All these people implicated or caught having used performance enhancing drugs and only one was able to beat them convincingly and do it clean? No. I have first hand knowledge of lance's drug usage. The doping story is big but it is the cover-up which is bigger. You have the incident at the Indiana University hospital where lance admitted to taking PEDs. On tape with Greg LeMond, Stephanie McIlvain admits that lance did indeed say he used performance enhancing drugs. She later recanted under oath. Another person, James Startt, testified as well that he talked with her about this incident that again she confirmed with him. You have Greg LeMond receiving calls from lance and influential and powerful people involved with cycling telling him to watch his comments because he, Greg, simply remarked that he was disappointed that lance was working with Ferrari. The existance of his bike company was in peril due to such a banal comment.
Bill Stapleton lied under oath saying he never talked to Frankie other than to say "hello" at the 2004 Tour. The reality, however, was that he talked to Frankie for close to 20 minutes the main purpose being for me to sign a false statement regarding David Walsh in order to discredit him. Under oath in his deposition Stapleton said he was in the conference room regarding the hospital room as we know it. In his testimony asked about the hospital room under oath he replied that he wouldn't know details about it because he was not there. Frankie received an e-mail from lance in December 2003 stating, "I know Betsy is not a fan, and that's fine, but by helping to bring me down is not going to help y'alls situation at all. there is a direct link to all of our success here and i suggest you remind her of that." We also have the physiology as proof: lance's V02Max was not capabale of producing the watts he produced. It's a matter of science.
It is simply because Frankie and I found no other option than to tell the truth about the hospital incident that lance has gone on a smear campaign to attack our credibility and attempt to impugn our character. It is for this reason that we defend ourselves. Many people have been financially hurt and livelihoods threatened for daring to tell the truth. Finally, the vast majority of American Media see the light. It's no longer a "French conspiracy." To what then can Mr. Armstrong attribute Selena Roberts, Philip Hersh, Austin Murphy, and NPR's (to name a very few) articles regarding him?
Betsy Andreu



We also have the physiology as proof: lance's V02Max was not capabale of producing the watts he produced. It's a matter of science.

Betsy Andreu,

You must be one frustrated lady. Science is on your side and you still can't win. Lance wins every legal judgement, every libel case, every drug test.

How can you be so right? And Lance be so vindicated all the time?

Is there no god?


Actually, lance has never ever won one legal judgement. He won money in the SCA case which was settled with no finding of fact. It was NOT a doping issue but rather a matter of Texas contract law. He settled with the London Sunday Times as well as with Mike Anderson and Filipo Simeoni from whom he required a confidentiality agreement. Why? Why did he withdraw all lawsuits in France? As Bill Stapleton said, they didn't want it going to court because " could blow the whole sport."
So no, lance has not been vindicated. On the contrary, look at the vast majority of the articles written about this by the American media many who used to be his cheerleaders. You actually made me smile.
p.s. God is with a capital "G"



Lance has won 7, count them 7 tour de france. And you haven't managed to even get one taken away from him.

Lance has been awarded virtually every sports honor that there is. And he still has them, despite you. Or maybe, inspite of you.

And to top it off he is an international hero. And you haven't even managed to dent his reputation.

Do you feel like Snidely Whiplash? Or the coyote after that darned roadrunner?

Do you still believe in your god? Has he abandoned you?


You are sick.
You are flailing....



Lance has dated Sheryl Crow. Have you dated Russel Crow?

Lance has a gazillion dollars. How about you?

Lance is the most beautiful person in the world? Heck, I would marry him if he asked. That's how beautiful his is. How about…..oh….forget it.

Have you thought about changing gods?


Just have to respond to one comment, since it was that gets thrown out about Armstrong all the time: "We also have the physiology as proof: lance's V02Max was not capabale of producing the watts he produced. It's a matter of science."

This is one of those true but completely wrong statements that just drives me up a wall.

It is absolutely correct that Lance Armstrong's VO2 max is not capable of producing the watts he produced assuming he only used aerobic processes to power his body. No one's VO2 max is capable of such a feat. So I guess Lance never used any anaerobic chemistry in his body? No lactic acid was produced? Lance Armstrong's VO2 max (whether or not it has been enhanced by drugs) is utterly amazing. It not just better than almost all other endurance sport athletes it is amazingly much better.


Please mathking, don't bring your logic and sound reasoning into an obsessive compulsive Oliver Stone-ish trash-talking thread on the dangers of all things Lance Amstrong.

You interrupt the flow and the "Leaving Las Vegas" effects of psilocybin only lasts just so long.


One fact that no one has mentioned is that Lance Armstrong and his team only trained for and competed in only ONE racing event a year, the Tour de France.

That is a incredibly strong difference between his team and the rest of the field. Most of the teams compete in at least 6 team events during the year and the team riders compete in indvidual races and events also during the year. The Tour o' Spain ends less than a month before the TDF, think about the condition all of those athletes would be in at that point.

Armstrong and his team were the only ones whose sponsors are fine and happy with them competing in only one event a year. And the only team that had deep enough pockets from those sponsors that the riders could make the economic choice to train for just one race a year.

The team rode the entire course for at least two months before the race each year, providing a real strategic advantage that other teams did not have. Additionally they could condition themselves as a team for that one course, with attackers, sprinters and climbers, this is very important.

I think the training and one race a year for the team had a great deal with the success of Lance Armstrong and his team. I also think this has a lot to do with some of the resentment in Europe of Team Lance, if all of the other racers have to work through the entire team and this team comes in from the U.S.A. with enough money so that they can compete in only this event it seems a tad unfair economically.



yeah, Armstrong probably doped- but nobody would argue he's not one of the greatest- what's tarnished is his reputation for honesty, not athletics- Rose can gamble and Maris can drink- it doesn't dispute their dominance, just their character- and if honesty is low on the list of alpha competitors, why not just accept it and stop trying to grind the square peg into the round hole