Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bitter champagne

On the eve of the Tour de France in 2006, there was a vast dope-oriented cleanup. The organizers published a short list of undesirable riders: the Italian Ivan Basso, the Spaniards Francesco Mancebo and Oscar Sevilla, and the German Jan Ullrich. Finally, the Tour was won by an American, Floyd Landis, who seemed to be as clean as they come. Wasn't he brought up in a pious Mennonite environment in a rural village named Farmersville in Pennsylvania?

The champagne had a bitter aftertaste. Tests revealed that Landis had been doped with EPO, and he was stripped of his victory in the Tour.

A report in The Wall Street Journal has just revealed that Landis has finally admitted that he used dope. He also made accusations concerning former teammates Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie. This long-overdue mea culpa is surely going to stir up a lot of shit during the weeks leading up to the forthcoming Tour de France.

People interested in the case of Armstrong should consult a lengthy in-depth interview (that dates from 2009) with the Australian EPO specialist Michael Ashenden, who gives me the impression that he knows what he's talking about. [Click the photo to access this interview.]


  1. Many people have spent extraordinary amounts of time for years trying to prove a connection between Lance Armstrong and drugs. The record is that he has been tested more often than any other cyclist in history and has never failed a drug test. I will give him the benefit of the doubt until he fails a test.

  2. Badger: It would be unwise for me (or any blogger in France) to make any public comment whatsoever concerning the questions raised by Floyd Landis or to cast aspersions upon any of the individuals named in the report published this morning. One could be attacked for defamation, slander, libel or whatever. I repeat, however, that the excellent interview with the Australian physiologist is most informative. It even alludes to, and takes an unusual slant on, Armstrong's reputation as the most tested sportsman in the world. In particular, Ashenden describes clearly the simple procedure that enabled Armstrong's 1999 urine samples to be identified by a journalist from L'Equipe and then tested, for the first time ever, for synthetic EPO.

    L'Equipe is a time-honored sporting newspaper in France. They're the same people who once made Ian Thorpe very hot under the collar. The swimmer imagined that he had been attacked by a minor French tabloid, and he swore for a day or so that he was going to annihilate them. Since then, having been informed of the serious nature of this great newspaper, Thorpe has never again raised his voice against L'Equipe. Armstrong, on the contrary, has known all along what the voice of L'Equipe represents in the international sporting domain, and I don't think he's ready to tackle them head-on. He does, however, seem to insinuate that the above-mentioned urine testing was deliberately falsified by mysterious hands at the French laboratory. So, it's going to be interesting to see how this affair evolves.

    Meanwhile, a French judge has recently issued an arrest warrant against Landis because of an allegation that he hacked a French computer.