June 08, 2004
Armstrong the doping snitch?
There's a new book out, by Daniel Baal, who was director of cycling in the Amaury Sport Organization, which runs the Tour de France and other races. In Monday's edition of Le Monde, there's a story on Baal's book (in French) (released today in France), which claims that Armstrong sent a letter to the UCI, the Amaury Sport Organization, and the World Anti-Doping Agency before last year's Tour, warning them of riders using synthetic hemoglobin to boost their oxygen supply.
My French is very poor, but reading through the article, there's no sign that Armstrong implicated any specific rider or group of riders, although the Le Monde article itself clearly focuses on the Spaniards.
And it's no surprise: This is one of the techniques Jesus Manzano described in his exposé series in AS, and David Extebarria of Euskaltel-Euskadi was ejected from the Euskal Bizikleta last week with a hematocrit of 52.8, which he attributed to a "digestive tract illness" and the resulting dehydration. In any case, he's out for 15 days, and must pass a blood test to resume racing. Two other Spanish riders, both from the Cafés Baqué team not admitted to the Tour, were also ejected.
I'm sure that Le Monde's focus on the Spanish teams may also have something to do with the doping troubles of France's largest team, Cofidis.
"The 'great' centenary Tour was the fastest in history," he says. "This fact, in addition to several others, could have- or should have- prompted certain questions. The debate never happened, at least not right after the Tour, as there was a consensus that the Tour had been magnificent. Everybody was happy, sitting on a cloud."
Baal apparently advocates opening up riders' medical files, so that any doping countermeasures or inconsistencies would be subject to public scrutiny and not subject to doctor-patient privilege.
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