A couple of weeks ago, I noted that I had listened to a number of podcasts that discussed drugs in cycling. I have since listened to a long interview with Betsy Andreu (wife of Frankie Andreu, a fomer Tour rider and teammate of Lance Armstrong and current commentator for Versus. She witnessed Armstrong telling two doctors at an Indiana hospital that he had used various performance-enhancing drugs (as did Frankie). She also has an unusual perspective on being with a pro cyclist, most notably when she saw Frankie leading a Tour stage to Sestrere when he had no business being there, and he later admitted that he used rEPO for that race. Well worth the listen.
More comprehensive is David Walsh’s “From Lance To Landis.” I mentioned his interview in my earlier post. It’s been criticized for simply being old news, but it’s still news if you didn’t know it.
I thought he made a convincing case, in large part circumstantial as to Armstrong, about doping in pro cycling, at least in Europe. (The US is decidedly minor league in comparison.) As an athlete, I relate to the suspicions aroused by dramatically increased performances by the peleton. Surely if Ritz were to pop a 2:06 in London, I’d wonder. Yet for the entire Tour de France to do that — Greg Lemond noted it started in 1991, when he was the defending (and soon to be deposed) champ — and as is reflected in the much higher speeds in the race, given what has been established on doping in the race and then to claim that the top rider wasn’t is naive. Armstrong, I think, wanted to be clean, but realized that he simply could not be competitive. And I think that’s what he did. I don’t know if I blame him, but I sure can’t think of him as some kind of hero.
I’ve always been on the Lemond side of the Lemond v. Armstrong debate and never was an Armstrong fan. And the book paints him as petty and vindictive, with a long memory. But that’s neither here nor there in the debate. “Is (was) he clean?” is an overarching question for fans of the Tour. I came down on the “No” side. It’s a good read.