June 01, 2006
L'Equipe: "nothing to retract" in Armstrong story
French sports daily L'Equipe, a corporate cousin of the Tour de France, came out in defense of its August 2005 story accusing Lance Armstrong of EPO use in the 1999 Tour. The story led the UCI to appoint an investigator to check into the claims, and his report, released yesterday, vindicates Armstrong.
VeloNews translates L'Equipe:
“There is nothing to retract from the revelations,” L'Equipe said in an editorial that concluded: “For our part, we remain convinced of the need to battle without compromise against the mafialike tendencies that still and always threaten the sport of cycling. Both in the method and the substance, L'Equipe stands firm.”
How can the paper continue to defend its story when the UCI's investigator, Emile Vrijman, so completely shredded it?
Vrijman, a lawyer and former head of Holland's anti-doping agency, is applying a legal standard to the evidence. By that standard, there's no story here. Armstrong's samples were handed over without a strict chain of evidence being established, there was ample opportunity (and motivation) for someone to spike the samples or for contamination to skew the results, and there's no corroborating sample to verify that the tested samples haven't been inadvertently (or intentionally) swapped.
L'Equipe, on the other hand, doesn't need a conviction in a court of law to believe they have a solid story. When it comes down to it, they've established a reasonable suspicion that a number of samples that most likely came from Armstrong in 1999 contained EPO. Am I convinced? No. Do I add this to other circumstantial evidence, both pro and con, when considering whether Armstrong may have used EPO in his career? Yes.
Big picture is that nothing can touch Armstrong on this. The samples were provided with the proviso that they could not be used for future disciplinary action, and their strength as evidence has been severely compromised.
VeloNews is also making available the complete Vridjman report.
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Listen, what happened to all the urine for wins 01, 02, 03 etc etc. and all the samples he pissed in while getting off his bike during the races. Did anyone find any atomic fuel in them, or is this a french thing, this Armstrong envy.
Posted by: Algis at Jun 11, 2006 6:44:12 AM