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2 Riders Say They Doped As Aides To Armstrong

2 Riders Say They Doped As Aides To Armstrong

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Published by Cycling Fan
From the NYT via International Herald Tribune, September 2006. By Juliet Macur.
From the NYT via International Herald Tribune, September 2006. By Juliet Macur.

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Published by: Cycling Fan on May 24, 2010
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05/25/2010

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2 riders say they doped as aides to Armstrong
By Juliet Macur The New York Times
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2006
NEW YORK
Two of Lance Armstrong'seight teammates from the 1999 Tour deFrance have admitted for the first timethat they used the banned endurance-boosting drug EPO in preparing for therace that year, when they helpedArmstrong capture the first of his recordseven titles.Their disclosures, in interviews with TheNew York Times, are rare examples of candor in a sport protected by apowerful code of silence. Their confessions come as cycling is reelingfrom doping scandals, including FloydLandis's fall in July from Tour championto suspected cheater.One of the two teammates who admittedusing EPO while on Armstrong's UnitedStates Postal Service team is FrankieAndreu, a 39-year-old retired team captain who had been part of Armstrong's inner circle for morethan a decade. In an interview at his home in Dearborn, Michigan, Andreu said he took EPO for only afew races and acknowledged his use because he thinks doping is damaging his sport. Continueddoping and denial by riders might scare away fans and sponsors for good, he said."There are two levels of guys," Andreu said. "You got the guys that cheat and guys that are just tryingto survive."The other rider who said he used EPO spoke on the condition of anonymity because he said he didnot want to jeopardize his job in cycling."The environment was certainly one of, to be accepted, you had to use doping products," he said."There was very high pressure to be one of the cool kids."Both riders never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, and both said they never sawArmstrong take any banned substances.Armstrong, who turns 35 next week, has long been dogged by accusations that he doped before andafter his remarkable recovery from cancer, which made him a transcendent cultural figure and symbolto cancer patients and survivors worldwide. He has repeatedly denied using performance-enhancingdrugs and has aggressively defended himself in interviews and through lawsuits.Multiple attempts to interview Armstrong for this article were unsuccessful. His agent, Bill Stapleton,wrote in an e-mail message Monday that Armstrong was unavailable for comment because he wasattending a meeting of the President's Cancer Panel in Minneapolis.Armstrong once said that cycling had no secrets and that hard work was the key to winning. Recentevents and disclosures, however, demonstrate that cycling does, indeed, have secrets.Dozens of interviews with people in the sport and a review of court documents in a contract disputebetween Armstrong and a company called SCA Promotions reveal the protective silence shared by
Page 1of 32 riders say they doped as aides to Armstrong -Print Version -International Herald Tribune9/12/2006http://www.iht.com/bin/print_ipub.php?file=/articles/2006/09/11/news/cycling.php
 
those in professional cycling. A new picture emerges of a murky world of clandestine meetings,mysterious pills and thermoses that clink with the sound of drug vials rattling inside them.This year's Tour de France began with a doping investigation that implicated nearly 60 riders andended with Landis testing positive for synthetic testosterone. He became the third of Armstrong'sformer lieutenants to fail drug tests after setting off on their own careers as lead riders."There's no doubt that cyclists have bought into the institutional culture of cheating, and that's a big,big problem for the sport," said Steven Ungerleider, a research psychologist, anti-doping expert andconsultant for college, Olympic and professional sports organizations. He described that culture as "amob psychology."In his 12 years as a professional cyclist, Andreu was a "domestique," a worker bee whose job was toshield a top rider like Armstrong from the wind and help him win.He said his introduction to performance-enhancing drugs came in 1995 when he and Armstrong werewith the Motorola team. He said some of the riders felt that they could no longer compete with someEuropean teams that had rapidly improved and were rumored to be using EPO.Motorola's top riders asked their doctor, Massimo Testa, about the drug's safety because riders inEurope had begun to die mysteriously during workouts or in their sleep.Testa, now a sports medicine specialist at the University of California at Davis, said in a telephoneinterview that he gave each rider literature about EPO, in case they decided to use it on their own. Hesaid that he urged them not to take the drug, but that he wanted them to be educated."If you want to use a gun, you had better use a manual, rather than to ask the guy on the street how touse it," he said. "I cannot rule out that someone did it."One of Armstrong's teammates, Steve Swart, discussed the Motorola team in the book "L.A.Confidential: The Secrets of Lance Armstrong," which was published in 2004, only in French.The book's allegations that Armstrong doped prompted the lawsuit between Armstrong and SCAPromotions, which was settled out of court in February. SCA withheld a $5 million bonus fromArmstrong after he won the 2004 Tour de France because of his suspected drug use. Armstrong andTailwind Sports, the company that owned his cycling team, sued SCA for the money.In the court case, Swart, a retired rider from New Zealand, said top riders on Motorola discussed EPOin 1995. He testified that Armstrong told teammates that there was "only one road to take" to becompetitive. In a sworn deposition, Swart said the meaning of Armstrong's comment was clear: "Weneeded to start a medical program of EPO."EPO, cortisone and testosterone were common in European cycling, Swart said in a telephoneinterview. He said using cortisone, a steroid, was regarded as "sucking on a candy stick." Cyclistsacquired the drugs from European pharmacies and took them in private, Swart said. "You basicallybecame your own doctor," he said.He said signs of drug use were widespread at the 1994 and 1995 Tours, and there was no test for EPO at the time."Everyone was walking around with their own thermos, and you could hear the sound, tinkle, tinkle,tinkle, coming from the thermoses because they were filled with ice and vials of EPO," Swart said."You needed to keep the EPO cold, and every night at the hotel, the guys would be running aroundtrying to find some ice to fill up their thermos."In the weeks before the 1999 Tour, Andreu's wife, Betsy, found one of those thermoses in her refrigerator. She was furious. "I remember Frankie saying, 'You don't understand, this is the only way Ican even finish the Tour,'" she said. "After this, I promise you, I'll never do it again."Betsy Andreu said she begrudgingly watched her husband help Armstrong traverse the mountains atthe Tour that year. Later, she said, she was angry when her husband said he had once allowed ateam doctor to inject him with an unidentified substance.
Page 2of 32 riders say they doped as aides to Armstrong -Print Version -International Herald Tribune9/12/2006http://www.iht.com/bin/print_ipub.php?file=/articles/2006/09/11/news/cycling.php

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