Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Armstrong Evasive During Test

When a French tester requested a sample from Lance Armstrong March 17th, Armstrong hit the showers…literally before providing blood, urine and hair samples.

Armstrong’s assistants reviewed the tester’s credentials while Armstrong took a 20 minute shower. The samples that were eventually provided were found to be drug free. This behavior is in stark contrast from when Armstrong announced his return to competitive cycling when he stated that he would embark on “the most advanced anti doping program in the world.” As we all came to learn, that ambitious testing program he announced in conjunction with his comeback resulted in zero tests.

Armstrong said, "I had no idea who this guy was or whether he was telling the truth. We asked the tester for evidence of his authority. We looked at his papers but they were far from clear or impressive and we still had significant questions about who he was or for whom he worked."

Once the identity was confirmed, the samples were provided. France’s anti-doping authority was not pleased with Armstrong’s act. They sent a report outlining Armstrong's behavior during the test to cycling's governing body and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Armstrong has said he has been tested 24 times without incident prior to this episode.

Everyone wants to believe Lance Armstrong. The man has raised awareness and countless funds for cancer research like no one before him. Being discovered as a cheat would cripple his image and those efforts; no one wants to see that. At the same time, people want to know the truth. For someone who makes a big splashy announcement coming back to racing and appears to do the right thing by embarking on an aggressive testing program only to never be tested once, raises flags. The zero tests under his new plan combined with suspicious behavior, leaving a tester for twenty minutes, and then providing samples is odd. I understand the need to validate the testers, but when will this end?

If you want to be on the forefront of transparency in testing, you don’t go off for 20 minutes and then provide samples. Lance Armstrong knows that; if he didn't, he does now.

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