Cojones. That is what Greg LeMond displays in spades. LeMond attended yesterdays press conference in Las Vegas, at the Interbike trade show. If Armstrong wants publicity, then he should deal with the tough issues too. To Bike Radar:
A day after officially announcing his comeback to professional cycling, Lance Armstrong made an appearance at the Interbike trade show to give the cycling media and industry an opportunity to hear more details of his plans, including the special testing by Don Catlin of the UCLA anti-doping lab. Catlin joined him on stage along with American Taylor Phinney, who will lead Armstrong's new U23 developmental team.
Sitting in the front row, asking the first question was another Tour de France champion and outspoken critic of Armstrong, Greg LeMond. Cyclingnews was on hand to hear the plans and questioning from the industry, including LeMond.
LeMond, seated in the front row, led off the questioning with some pointed ones, all surrounding the theme of questioning the reasonability of the planned special testing of Armstrong by Don Catlin of the UCLA lab.
Very topical questions for Team Armstrong. Or should we say Corporate Armstrong. If an athlete is going to trumpet state of the art doping testing, then make it state of the art. Look at more than the 'forensic' lab tests (drug level, or T/E ratios). Look at physiologic functions and blood parameters for irregularities.
LeMond pressed Armstrong and Catlin about the type of testing they had planned. He levied some reasonable critiques, essentially calling into question the proposed testing, arguing that it is not comprehensive enough, such as using T/E ratios and tests for specific EPO drugs as opposed to measuring physiological variables such as power output changes over time. LeMond inferred that a spike in power output would better indicate the use of something compared to trying to test for particular substances.
"That is not my area," responded Catlin. "He will be subject to testing by everyone under the sun. I think that will be all sorted out."
Catlin is a good guy; we hope he is not seduced by the Armstrong mystique and the Armstrong financial power. For too long stars tend to intimidate people; even in Congress, members were asking Roger Clemens for autographs rather than grilling him about his doping agenda. LeMond is not easily intimidated as we can see below. This exchange proved pretty testy:
Catlin said that the actual program is still taking shape. "[Lance] has agreed to a couple of a few very fundamental points. One is his data, like T/E ratio and all that kind of stuff that a doping control is allowed to do will be on the web, so you can see it. 'Ah, your T/E ratio changed today, what happened?' Like to see if he is taking EPO – all the actors to make it a very public campaign.
"The other thing is samples will be kept frozen for a good long time so that if next year, five years a new test comes out and someone says Lance was doing something five years ago, we can pull out the samples and test them. This is longitudinal testing whereas the usual type of testing is taking a stop in time. This is where you connect the dots and is much more powerful kind of program to understand the physiology."
"That is all irrelevant," LeMond responded. "It doesn't matter about T/E ratio but watts and power output..."
"I don't think it is irrelevant," said Catlin. "I dare say you know this business pretty well! Come with your ideas of what we should do!"
At that point Armstrong stepped in tried to move things along. "You've done your job," Armstrong said to LeMond. "We are here to talk about a couple of things, like the Global Clinton campaign and my comeback to cycling. It's time for us, everybody in this room, to move on. We are not going to go there, I appreciate you being here – next question."
Come on folks. If an athlete holds a press conference to trumpet his complete transparency to anti-doping agenda, and if the athlete expects to be state-of-the-art, then the athlete needs to answer all questions completely without cutting off the questioner because the issues are too tough, or he doesn't like the path the questions are going.
This is not scientific agenda here, it is public relations. and perhaps to sell some SRAM bicycle components.