Wednesday, August 24, 2005

More on Lance Doping Allegations

An article was posted yesterday at VeloNews with the title, "Top lab official wonders if delayed testing is possible," seems to confirm my doubts about yesterday's allegations that Lance Armstrong used EPO during the 1999 Tour de France.

The article includes statements from Doctor Christiane Ayotte, director of the Doping Control Laboratory at Montreal's Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (Canada's top anti-doping laboratory). Her statments include:
  • "'We are extremely surprised that urine samples could have been tested in 2004 and have revealed the presence of EPO,' Ayotte said in an interview with VeloNews on Tuesday. 'EPO--in its natural state or the synthesized version--is not stable in urine, even if stored at minus 20 degrees.'"
  • "Ayotte explained that as part of WADA's efforts to 'harmonize' testing protocols among anti-doping laboratories worldwide, the Paris lab had created the model to allow the application of 'qualitative rather than quantitative' standards when interpreting test results.'That has to be the only explanation, because otherwise, I've been a liar all these years,' Ayotte said. 'I have been instructing everyone at all of the organizations not to expect to reproduce an EPO adverse finding if more than two or three months has elapsed since the sample was originaly taken.'"
  • "Ayotte said that procedure aside, the Armstrong story in L'Equipe also raises a critical ethical question raised by the release of such data, without the possibility of follow-up tests.
    'I am very worried about the circumstnces about the way such information might have been leaked,' Ayotte said. 'We are fully allowed--and it is our duty--to investigate samples to make sure that if there is an adverse finding, it is properly reported. In this case, however, the director of the laboratory acknowledges that it cannot be deemed a doping offense because 1) the athlete has retired and 2) he is placed in a situation where there is no way to have the sample re-tested or verified.'
    'It seems to me,' Ayotte continued, 'that this whole thing is a breach of the WADA code. We are supposed to work confidentially until such time that we can confirm a result. By no means does this mean that we sweep a result under the carpet, but it has to meet a certain set of requirements.'"
So, it seems this will probably never leave Lance, but without a way to prove any of it, I'm guessing he's going to have a big libel suit on his hands.

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