To commemorate the opening day of the Tour de France, which Lance Armstrong says will be his last, Floyd Landis has provided more details about what he says was a coordinated cheating program used by Lance, Floyd, and other members of Lance’s team.There were no fancy drugs involved, says Landis. Just repeated blood doping (removing blood, storing it in the fridge, and then transfusing it back into the body during the race) and the use of testosterone to aid recovery between races.
Lance Armstrong immediately dismissed Landis as a liar, just as he did when Landis published the first details in May. And there is no disputing that, at least in the past, Landis has been a liar.
Several unnamed former members of Lance’s teams say they saw the same doping that Floyd Landis describes. Several other members of the team say they didn’t see it. The current members of Lance’s team and others Floyd Landis named did not respond to request for comment.
If memory serves, the exact wording of the cheating denial Lance Armstrong usually uses is “I have never used performance-enhancing drugs.”
Perhaps importantly, the blood doping tactic Landis describes does not involve the use of performance-enhancing drugs (it merely boosts the body’s red-blood cell count through a transfusion of the rider’s own blood). It is still considered cheating, however.
Given the details in Landis’ latest account, the question that should be put to Armstrong is “have you ever had blood removed and stored and then transfused back into your body during the Tour de France?”
We suspect we know what Lance’s answer would be. Based on Landis’s account, however, we suspect it’s also the right question. And we hope Lance Armstrong answers that question honestly some day, if he hasn’t already.
Now please excuse us while we go root for Lance to win his 8th Tour de France.
Read all the details in this excellent article by Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell in the Wall Street Journal:
Nine days into the 2004 Tour de France, the U.S. Postal Service cycling team, led by Lance Armstrong, checked into a hotel near the village of Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat.
It was July 12, one of two rest days on the Tour—the rare breaks that give riders a chance to rest and gird themselves for the punishing climbs and sprints that make this the most depleting event in professional cycling.
According to one of the U.S. Postal team’s most prominent riders at the time, Floyd Landis, one room at the hotel had been set aside for a secret procedure.
Outside its door, Mr. Landis said, team staff members were stationed at each end of the hall to make sure nobody showed up unannounced. The riders were told before they went into the room not to talk when they got inside, he said. The smoke detectors had been taken down, he said, plastic was taped over the heater and the air-conditioning unit, and anything with a hole in it was taped over. The purpose, Mr. Landis figured, was to obscure the view of any hidden camera.
The riders on the team who participated in this procedure lay down on the bed, two at a time, Mr. Landis said, with a doctor on each side. Mr. Landis said he got a blood transfusion. He said he also saw Mr. Armstrong and two other team members, George Hincapie and José Luis Rubiera, taking blood. He said he didn’t see any other riders getting transfusions that day.
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