Latest News on Blood Doping in Pro Cycling
Last week, attorney Lee Davis aptly noted a French court's decision handing down a 12-month suspended sentence to cyclist Floyd Landis for his 2006 in attempt to steal documents from a French drug-testing laboratory. The documents in question related to Landis's 2006 Tour de France victory, which was stripped from him after drug tests revealed an unusually high level of testosterone in Landis's blood. Although Landis vehemently denied using performance enhancing drugs, after all hope of reclaiming his Tour victory was dead, he admitted using PEDs, and at the same time, implicated fellow former U.S. Postal Service teammate Lance Armstrong of blood doping as well.
Landis's accusations have gone quiet recently, but now that the French case is over, it's likely that he will go back on the offensive. A California grand jury is still investigating, but given the statute of limitations for the crimes he is accused of, it's unlikely that Armstrong will be formally charged, much less convicted.
Also credit to Lee Davis for reporting that 3-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador gave testimony last week in the investigation of his alleged doping during the 2010 Tour. I had thought that this issue was dead, so I am glad that Davis reported on it as well. Apparently the Spanish Cycling Federation acquitted Contador (a Spaniard) of the doping charges, but WADA and UCI (the two organizations that matter) have yet to render a decision. If found guilty, Contador will forfeit his 2010 Tour de France victory, and will be banned from professional cycling for two years.
I am an avid cycling fan — I was more of an avid cyclist before going into private practice — so one of the legal issues I follow closely (but don't often write about) is the ongoing blood doping saga in professional cycling. For those who don't know, doping is a process of using PEDs to increase the number of red blood cells (and oxygen), which boosts an endurance athlete's cardiovascular stamina. Doping is different from traditional steroid use.
I'm a huge fan of Lance Armstrong, I even had the opportunity to ride with him in a charity ride benefitting cancer research in 2009 (see above photo), and because I'm a fan, I'd like to believe that he's always been clean. But having been around professional and semi-pro cyclists for years, common sense tells me otherwise.
In this photo, Lance Armstrong (in the Livestrong kit, of course), is shown at the helm of the lead group of Pelotonia 2009. I am riding in the third position behind Armstrong, white jersey with black sleeves, head is cut out of the picture. I eventually caught up to Armstrong, and rode alongside him for about 10 miles, before dropping back to catch my breath. Unfortunately I spent everything I had, to catch up to Armstrong — I fell out of the peloton short of the halfway point of the 110-mile ride.