The French agency responsible for testing Lance Armstrong's disputed positive (EPO) 1999 urine sample wants another go at applying the doping test, only with Armstrong's permission.
Armstrong, staging a well publicized comeback, wants to assure the world his cycling will be clean. One of the thorns in Armstrong's side continues to be the 'alleged' positive 1999 urine sample; (again allegedly) Armstrong's stored samples tested positive for EPO, a test not available at the time of the sample collection. However Armstrong disputes several issues including chain of custody of the samples.
Now the French agency AFLD is offering to retest the '99 samples for EPO, in an attempt to clear Armstrong's name (to Cycling Weekly):
The French Anti-Doping Authority (AFLD) has offered Lance Armstrong a chance to retest his urine samples from the 1999 Tour - which, according to French newspaper L'Equipe allegedly contained traces of EPO.
“Mr. Armstrong is a great champion,” AFLD boss Pierre Bordry told French newspaper L'Equipe on Wednesday, “Everybody can understand how someone like him would want to come back to the Tour again."
"I would like that comeback to be in the best possible conditions, so I would suggest that we do a complete analysis of the six urine samples taken in the 1999 Tour.That would perhaps give him the chance to affirm he never cheated during his brilliant career.”
L'Equipe alleged back in 2005 that the 1999 samples, taken during the first of Armstrong's seven Tours victories, contained traces of EPO. Armstrong has always categorically denied all allegations of doping.
Bordry added that the Paris laboratory which had carried out the testing had confirmed to him that Armstrong's samples had been conserved in the correct conditions, and that if Armstrong wished the new tests would be carried out in the presence of an expert nominated by the Texan.
The French agency seems to have Armstrong in a bit of a pinch. If Armstrong agrees to the testing, he risks the chance that the samples test positive (?again). The same chain of custody, sabotage, and storage issues remain as with the first test, although DNA testing could prove the samples are Armstrong's. If the samples are not positive would the world accept the result?
If Armstrong does agree to re-testing then he will be accused of a cover-up.
Only Armstrong knows the chances of an EPO positive. Is he willing to run the risk of a positive doping sample in 1999? If clean he could prove it. If dirty, he will try to avoid the re-test. This could be interesting. However we are betting an attorney will advise not to volunteer a retest.