How many Tours de Alleged Steroids does Lance Armstrong have to face? Charges of performance enhancing drug (PED) use seem to be linked to him like the back peddler in a bicycle built for two.
Briefly the story goes like this:
Armstrong was at the Univ of Indiana Medical Center for treatment of testicular CA. Friends of his were in the room when a physician(s) asked about PED. Some friends heard Armstrong admit to a history of those agents, while others didn't (although that is even controversial; see the NPR story).
Where did this testimony surface? According to NPR:
The case involving all this sworn testimony grew out of a lawsuit Armstrong filed in 2004. He sued a company, called SCA, that had promised in a contract to pay Armstrong a $5 million bonus if he won his sixth straight Tour de France in 2004. He did win, but SCA withheld the bonus after new doping allegations against Armstrong surfaced that same year.
The testimony, from a former friend of Armstrong's - Betsy Andreu - apparently occurred in a Michigan court, during the legal proceedings, initiated by Armstrong. She was under oath.
QUESTION: And what is it Mr. Armstrong said in response to the doctor asking him about use of performance-enhancing drugs?
ANDREU: I don't know how the doctor phrased the question, but Lance's response was that he had taken EPO and testosterone and growth hormone and cortisone.
QUESTION: Did he say when he had taken these drugs?
ANDREU: ....when the doctor proposed the question, he said, 'Have you taken anything in the past or previous?' So obviously, it was sometime before that point.
QUESTION: Were you surprised when Mr. Armstrong said he had taken those various performance-enhancing drugs?
ANDREU: Yeah. I was surprised.
Armstrong's primary physician, at the time, denies that Armstrong admitted to him a use of PED. However, Armstrong apparently took several of these drugs during treatment of the testicular CA.
I see several issues here:
1. The nature of overhearing a patient's history, then how this episode is presented through the years. Mrs. Andreu may indeed have heard Armstrong say he took cortisone, HGH, testosterone, and EPO. It may be quite possible Armstrong was describing his medical treatments for CA.
2. Armstrong saying the hospital episode didn't happen. Then Mr. Andreu testifying that Armstrong called him up to discuss the incident. This is all weird. First, if Armstrong took those drugs, they might well have been prescribed by his physicians. Second, that sounds like a more plausible explanation than saying the episode didn't happen. Now, the story gets twisted with lying under oath, further questions about he said, she said, etc. etc.
3. And moreover, it has to be noted that the media continues to be fascinated by the use of PED by sports stars. Why? What is the underlying dynamic here? (I have theories, but I want other ideas too).
What if Armstrong took PED? Did he take those as part of a medical treatment, or were they intended to give him an advantage in competition. Huge difference.
It is highly unlikely any PED would be linked to Armstrong's testicular CA. More likely genetics are involved (but I don't know that for sure). Thus Armstrong's recovery from CA is a remarkable story that stands on it's own.
Although doping testing present many many problems, it seems that athletic competitions, and competitors must do everything they can, in this environment, to assure the public that the competitors are PED free. Otherwise continued nagging questions about PED occur.
Sport has been contaminated by athletes who use PED for their advantage. Sport has been tainted. It will take some time for the public confidence, and the media focus, to abate.