Thursday, April 9, 2009

It's Just a Mutual Cycling Hatred

The Tour de France organizers and Lance Armstrong have had a long lasting hateful relationship.  After his 1999 tour which he won after beating cancer, the organizers got together in a French cafe, sipping wine and munching on baguettes, and began talking: "Sacre bleu! Thees American's performance in le Tour was too good! He must be doping!" "But Francois, he has not tested positive for anytheeng!" "He must have feegured out a way to fool the tests! Ahh, thees American is so clever!"

And so they redesigned the tours to put Lance at a disadvantage, and made it well known that they'd like to see someone different win the Tour. But that didn't happen for a long time. As a matter of fact, it didn't happen at all for seven years.

During that time Lance was accused of doing various doping practices to give him an edge, but the accusations were countered with the arguments that he produces very little lactic acid, his VO2 max is insanely high, and he generally just trains for the Tour de France year round while racing the smaller tours that lead up to the Tour de France, as opposed to his competitors who race year round.  Tour organizers have gnashed their teeth and whined that he was ruining the sport because there was no competition, while Lance pointed out that he was handedly kicking everybody's asses which is a great feat in itself.

But through a lack of solid evidence, or a really good legal defense team on Armstrongs' behalf, none of the accusations really stuck.  But that doesn't mean he hasn't had his share of detractors and haters.  

So it made sense that when a French anti-doping agency drug tester showed up at his house recently and requested a urine sample, Lance wanted to make sure the guy was really with the anti-doping agency.  For all Lance knew, this guy could've been with a tabloid and had vials of recombinant erythropoietin ready to dump in his blood and urine samples and take them to the press for the story of a lifetime.  And, it's not like Lance is best buddies with labs testing for drugs. One lab claimed to have retested his blood from 1999 and it tested positive for erythropoietin, but Lance threatened to sue for defamation, and the lab was kinda sorta lacking definitive evidence, and they kinda sorta quit claiming it.

The only problem I have is that Lance wanted to shower while his assistants checked the drug tester's credentials.  Bad move, Lance.  I know getting pushed around isn't a lot of fun, but he should've stayed within sight of the drug tester at all times.  That way, nobody can accuse him of taking some sort of masking agent prior to providing the samples.  He tested negative, by the way, but that won't make much of a difference to his detractors.

As far as his prospects for the Tour de France go, I expect him to get smoked by all the younger guys.  He's a good cyclist, but I think the younger guys will all edge him out.  But hey, he's not racing to win, right? He's racing to raise awareness for cancer, so I expect him to have a lot of breakaways, drop back, and not win any stages.
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