Story: Armstrong Tested Positive for EPO Six Times
A French paper published a report Tuesday that cyclist Lance Armstrong tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug EPO six separate times in 1999. Armstrong denies the charges.
One month after winning his seventh consecutive Tour de France and retiring from professional cycling, Lance Armstrong is on the defensive over doping allegations stemming from his first Tour win in 1999. L’Equipe, the leading sports daily newspaper in France, published a report Tuesday that said six different urine samples Armstrong provided during the 1999 Tour tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug EPO when examined in 2004 by a French lab fine-tuning EPO testing. The lab tested all the B samples from the 1999 Tour. EPO, which builds endurance, was a banned substance in 1999 but there was no approved test for it.
Of the 12 samples that returned as positive, six came from Armstrong, the story said. The lab did not identify the samples as being from Armstrong, and the testing was done with assurances that identification of the samples would be confidential and not used for doping enforcement. But L’Equipe reporters matched the samples’ identification numbers in the lab report with information Armstrong released to French judicial investigators in a 2000 doping probe.
Armstrong has been at odds with French doping officials and media since his 1999 win, but he never has been linked to a positive test, a point he emphasized in his prepared rebuttal. “The paper even admits in its own article that the science in question here is faulty and that I have no way to defend myself,” Armstrong said in a statement released late Monday night. “They state: ‘There will therefore be no counter-exam nor regulatory prosecutions, in a strict sense, since defendant’s rights cannot be respected.’ I will simply restate what I have said many times: I have never taken performance-enhancing drugs.”
These are serious allegations, indeed. It’s a shame that we now routinely suspect our best athletes of cheating in this manner and that, as a consequence, such charges result in permanent taint.
I’d like to believe this is not true in Armstrong’s case. Given that he presumably never tested positive for anything that would get him disqualified from a race, he deserves the presumption of innocence here.