USADA's Armstrong case file reveals gap between Texan's 500-test claim and reality
BEIJING (VN) — One of Lance Armstrong’s strongest and most repeated arguments against the doping claims that dogged him since 1999 is that he’s never tested positive, despite having been tested 500 times or more during his career.
Those claims, which Armstrong has repeated during innumerable media interviews, were undercut in the extensive dossier that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency published on Wednesday.
USADA officials on Wednesday confirmed it had tested Armstrong less than 60 times. UCI president Pat McQuaid said during a press conference at the world championship last month in the Netherlands that it had tested Armstrong 215 times during his career.
While confirmed numbers were unavailable from other authorized testing agencies — the World Anti-Doping Agency and the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) — USADA suggested that the number of controls Armstrong submitted was nowhere near the oft-quoted 500 figure.
“The number of actual controls on Mr. Armstrong over the years appears to have been considerably fewer than the number claimed by Armstrong and his lawyers,” USADA lawyers wrote in its dossier.
The report also suggested that many of the UCI-sanctioned doping controls were blood samples taken to test for hematocrit levels in health screenings or as part of the biological passport, and were not necessarily tested for the presence of banned substances.
USADA also cited quotations from former UCI president Hein Verbruggen and current UCI president Pat McQuaid, whom both repeated the “500-600” number in references to the number of times Armstrong was tested during his career.
McQuaid, however, clarified that statement in September when he confirmed that the UCI had counted the number of controls it conducted on Armstrong at 215.
In its report, USADA undermined one of Armstrong’s strongest arguments that he never tested positive for a banned substance by writing: “In any case, as described below, the risk of Lance Armstrong ever testing positive was always relatively low and could be, and was, managed through precautions and evasive measures that were regularly employed by him and his team,” the report stated. “Therefore, the contention that an absence of positive drug tests is proof that a cyclist is clean does not bear serious scrutiny.”
USADA also said Armstrong refused to reveal the number of anti-doping controls during its investigation.