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By Steve Frothingham
This week the Danish newspaper / Web site Ekstra Bladetran published an article in which physiologist Jakob Mørkeberg examined Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France blood samples and said they might indicate a blood doping program.
Mørkeberg pointed to Armstrong’s hematocrit and hemoglobin blood values, which he said stayed unusually consistent throughout the Tour, with a slight spike in the middle. He noted that Armstrong’s blood values were more variable during the Tour of Italy, two months earlier. He said that the values could be attributed to blood doping or to natural causes including diarrhea or dehydration.
The article has led to much speculation on the Internet and in the European press. VeloNews has reviewed translations of the article, but has not commissioned an independent translation.
VeloNews asked Armstrong’s spokesman, Mark Higgins, to respond to the article and was referred to Rasmus Damsgaard, who runs the Astana team’s anti-doping program.
Damsgaard called the Danish article merely speculative.
“I would like to point out that Jacob Mørkeberg in his interpretation of the blood profile emphasizes that the fluctuations – in addition to blood transfusion – can be caused by completely normal biological responses in the body. Mørkeberg therefore has not found that Lance Armstrong is doped – he merely pointed at variations in the blood values,” Damsgaard said in an email to VeloNews.
“There is currently no scientifically accepted method accepting that such fluctuations in a blood profile can be attributed to blood transfusions. Therefore, suggesting blood transfusion is merely speculating,” he continued.
Damsgaard went on to repeat the oft-mentioned assertion that Armstrong “is one of the world’s most tested athletes – if not the most tested athlete,” having been tested more than 40 times this year out of competition.
“Personally, I am very much in line with other experts that in the recent days (have) declared that circumstantial evidence constitute a real threat to the individual athletes “rule of law,” since athletes have no real option to disprove such accusations.”