Clearly exasperated at a situation that has more questions than answers, more hidden agendas than pro wrestling, and more holes than Swiss cheese, Armstrong once again clearly stated his innocence against allegations that EPO has been found in samples taken from him during the 1999 Tour de France. Present were Lance, Bill Stapleton, and his attorney Mark Levinstein.
If you’re reading this, you’ll already know that L’Equipe published a story a few weeks ago claiming it had evidence that EPO was found in 6 of Lance’s samples from the 1999 Tour de France. Once everyone stopped freaking out long enough about Lance being doped to ask a few questions, we learned the whole story itself is so full of questions, that at this point it barely rates as tabloid trash. Unfortunately, we all know what happens when old trash is not taken out…
But Lance and his team did their best to put the lid on this smelly can of trash…
In direct rebuttal to Dick Pound’s statements, Lance’s legal advisor Mark Levinstien said: “Mr. Pound is using false and misleading statements to try to misdirect and divert attention away from himself, and his organization, by alleging that the UCI is the source of the leak to L’Equipe.”
Given Mr. Pound’s comments directed at the UCI, he’s looking to take on all comers, or at least piss on all comers… problem is he forgot his rubber boots. According to Mark Levinstein: “The UCI said they wanted to conduct a comprehensive investigation, they’ve asked for information from Lance, he’s provided everything that they’ve asked. Now, the UCI has asked for information from the French lab and from WADA, and they have not gotten what they’ve asked for. There’s a clear intention by WADA to conceal information…”
They cited their opinion that Mr. Pound has a long standing pattern of attacking athletes. Is Dick Pound involved in a campaign to smear Lance? We haven’t talked to Mr. Pound ourselves, but it seems he’s doing the talking for us – remember his mutton-chopped comments about all cyclists being dopers, that prompted Lance’s passionate response in his Open Letter to Dick Pound.
Which raises another other good question… Why?
I’ll leave that one to the oddsmakers, ’cause I have no clue.
Now To The L’Equipe Corner –
L’Equipe approached Lance wanting to do a story on whether he’d had any medical exemptions on his dope control forms from previous Tours, and was authorized by Lance to look at his historical testing forms. It was assumed that the L’Equipe reporter was only going to look, but he somehow ended up with the forms in his possession. Furthermore – L’Equipe was authorized to look at one form, but somehow they found six to write their story about. Where the other 5, unauthorized forms appeared from is another murky matter.
Levinstein went on to say: “The issue is the fact that there were codes attached to anonymous samples that were leaked to the press. That is where the system broke down here. Somebody directed that lab to leak those samples with the codes. That is the question that needs to be asked first, before we start crucifying athletes without any due process.”
And What About The UCI?
It’s reported that the UCI normally destroys testing forms after two years, so why did they have Lance’s forms on hand from 6 years earlier?
Lance pointed out that in 1998, when the French won the Soccer World Cup, the blood samples were destroyed within 24 hours, along with the forms samples and all evidence…. “when their boys won the biggest contest in the world.”
Hmm – do I detect just a waft of French-scented conspiracy here? A little ‘eau de pee-yew!’, perhaps?
“That is a double standard”, so having said that, where did the form, the numbers, the digits of the codes come from? That’s what we’re trying to find out. We’re not afraid of anything, but we’re trying to fix the system, and through the process clear my name. But we’re not getting the answers.”
Why the UCI kept its forms for so long when they were supposed to destroy them two years after the race is anyone’s guess. (Aren’t the Swiss supposed to be the neutral guys…?) But regardless, the forms in question were authorized for release for a specific purpose by Lance, and were clearly used for something else – that just doesn’t smell like fair play to me.
And don’t forget the ASO own both Le Tour de France and L’Equipe newspaper – does anyone else smell a ‘potential’ conflict of interest?
For sure it’s a big mess, the motives for which seem … well… what are the motives exactly? Anyone… please?
In Other News…
When asked about the possibility of returning to racing, Lance said:
“ [pause, followed by exasperated sigh…] …Sitting hear in the chair right now… in my heart I thought ‘you know… maybe I just need to go back for another one’, and it seemed like the right answer. Sitting here today, dealing with all this stuff… again… and knowing that if I were to go back, and the Tour is the biggest event… there is NO WAY I could go to France and get fair shake – either on the roadside, in the doping control, or in the lab, or in the hotel, or in the food, or whatever. There is no way I could go back there…”
“I would be crazy to go back there. So why don’t we all just say… we’re not goin’ back. …I’m not coming back.”
“I’m in hear dealing with this bs, I got three kids out swimming in the pool, splashing around screaming my name… I’m sick of this.”
To date, zero formal evidence to prove these allegations has been presented, and regardless of retirement, Lance is still a fighter, and a guy who sticks to his guns. He summed it up when asked why, given his relationship with L’Equipe, did he authorize them to look at this paper in the first place?
Lance: “I’m gonna say it slow, and it’s not gonna be many words:
‘Because… we have nothing …to hide.”
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