More Doping Trouble for Lance Armstrong

VeloNews summarizes the latest charge against Lance, as reported in the forthcoming Sports Illustrated:

The magazine will report that “a source with knowledge of the government’s investigation” said that in the late 1990s Armstrong “gained access” to a new drug, HemAssist, that was said to offer similar benefits to EPO. An Armstrong spokesman denied that he ever took the drug. HemAssist was pulled from clinical trials in 1998 before it was ever marketed. However, cyclist Dario Frigo was caught with some HemAssist vials in his bag in 2001. [...]

The magazine says that a search of Yaroslav Popovych’s apartment in Italy last year turned up evidence that Armstrong’s team was still working with controversial doctor Michele Ferrari. Armstrong has said he cut his ties with Ferrari in 2004.

The magazine reports that UCLA anti-doping expert Don Catlin had found unusual testosterone-epitestosterone ratios in Armstrong’s blood samples, but that Catlin was unable to confirm the ratio in B-samples.

The magazine quotes one of Armstrong’s Motorola teammates Stephen Swart. Swart told the magazine that Armstrong pushed team members to use EPO. He also tells of an in-house test for hematocrit levels and said Armstrong raced in the 1995 Tour de France with a level of “54 or 56.”

These reports appear to indicate illegal drug usage before and after cancer -- the latter of which would call into question his Tour de France victories. Another idea to consider: Lance could be readying a defense that essentially indicts all of pro cycling and makes certain doping practices acceptable.

After all, most of the great riders have admitted -- or have been caught -- doping. Lance could suggest that it's just another aspect of the sport, like wind tunnel testing, carbon fiber and aerodynamic rims. Necessary equipment that enhances the performance of the athletes against the incredible physical odds stacked against them. I image he'd have the weight and wherewithal to sell this, and it could change the way we look at certain forms of performance enhancing drugs.