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By Steve Frothingham
After starting an independent anti-doping program by taking samples at the Tour Down Under last month, Lance Armstrong and Anti-Doping Sciences Institute agreed to end the program, Oliver Catlin, the company’s CEO and program manager, told VeloNews Wednesday.
Catlin, the son of company founder Don Catlin, said expense was a factor, but administration of the program, coordination with other testers and communicating the results to the public also were challenges that led to the “mutual decision to end the program.”
In a statement, Armstrong’s attorney and agent, Bill Stapleton, said the racer will “transfer the program we had planned to do with Don Catlin to Ramsus Damsgaard.” He also said that Armstrong’s detailed test sample results would be posted on his Livestrong.com Web site. (The results were posted Wednesday afternoon.)
Damsgaard runs the testing program for Team Astana. He also ran an independent program for the Saxo Bank team before the team ended it last week, saying the UCI’s biological-passport program made internal testing redundant.
“Lance is the most tested athlete in sports history and he is certainly the most tested cyclist in the world since his return to the sport last year, evidenced by no fewer than 16 unannounced out-of-competition tests since August all over the world. We will continue to do everything we can do to ensure transparency and honesty in his testing results,” Stapleton said.
Armstrong brought Don Catlin with him on the platform at news conferences in New York and Las Vegas last fall while announcing his return to racing. But Oliver Catlin said that after initiating the program in Australia, it became clear that it was impractical.
“Without representing Armstrong’s position, he is subject, or would have been subject, to our testing, his team’s, the UCI’s, in-competition testing, USADA testing and God knows what others,” he said.
Anti-Doping Sciences Institute will continue to work with Garmin-Slipstream and Columbia-High Road, Oliver Catlin said. He declined to detail the testing frequency for athletes on those teams — he said even the teams don’t know — but said it is less frequent than the every-three-days program planned for Armstrong.
“With Armstrong’s every-three-day concept, there was a high likelihood that we would run into other testers (from the UCI or other programs),” he said. Attempting to gather multiple samples on the same day could be time consuming and possibly invalidate the samples, he said.
“There were countless challenges to deal with in the program. It was not any one of them (that led to the decision to end the relationship), but en masse, collectively, it led to the decision.”
Oliver Catlin declined to give his opinion of whether race fans can be confident in Armstrong’s performance without his organization’s testing.
“From what I know, there tends to be polarized camps when it comes to Armstrong, and I don’t think there is anything in this situation that will change either camp’s opinion.”