Lance Armstrong was hoping to have a celebratory press conference Thursday to formally announce his return to cycling and to introduce his new anti-doping testing plan to be performed by Don Catlin.
It sounded great, except a certain someone crashed the party. Greg LeMond, the three time Tour de France winner, and one of the few Americans extremely suspicious about Armstrong's doping history.
LeMond was at one time the most famous American cyclist and pushed aside thanks to Armstrong's ridiculous run of Tour de France titles, so clearly there is some built in animosity towards Lance. With that said, it's nice to see someone not caught up in the story and more focused on making sure the sport of cycling is clean.
Sitting in the front row yesterday at Interbike in Las Vegas was LeMond ready to question this anti-doping plan of Armstrong's.
"I see Mr. Greg LeMond is here," Armstrong said somewhat wryly, but allowed him to have the first question.
LeMond pressed Armstrong and Catlin about the type of testing they had planned. He levied some reasonable critiques, essentially calling into question the proposed testing, arguing that it is not comprehensible enough, such as using T/E ratios and tests for specific EPO drugs as opposed to measuring physiological variables such as power output changes over time. LeMond inferred that a spike in power output would better indicate the use of something compared to trying to test for particular substances.
"That is not my area," responded Catlin. "He will be subject to testing by everyone under the sun. I think that will be all sorted out."
Catlin said that the actual program is still taking shape. "[Lance] has agreed to a couple of a few very fundamental points. One is his data, like T/E ratio and all that kind of stuff that a doping control is allowed to do will be on the web, so you can see it. 'Ah, your T/E ration changed today, what happened?' Like to see if he is taking EPO – all the actors to make it a very public campaign."
"There is nothing that he has asked [for] nor will I accept - it [would be] out of bounds."
"The other thing is samples will be kept frozen for a good long time so that if next year, five years a new test comes out and someone says Lance was doing something five years ago, we can pull out the samples and test them. This is longitudinal testing whereas the usual type of testing is taking a stop in time. This is where you connect the dots and is much more powerful kind of program to understand the physiology."
"That is all irrelevant," LeMond responded. "It doesn't matter about T/E ratio but watts and power output..."
"I don't think it is irrelevant," said Catlin. "I dare say you know this business pretty well! Come with your ideas of what we should do!"
At that point Armstrong stepped in tried to move things along. "You've done your job," Armstrong said to LeMond. "We are here to talk about a couple of things, like the Global Clinton campaign and my comeback to cycling. It's time for us, everybody in this room, to move on. We are not going to go there, I appreciate you being here – next question."
I look forward to Mr. LeMond just randomly showing up at various spots along the Tour de France, half way up the Alps just to haunt Armstrong, wearing all black.
All of the specifics is clearly over my head, but I appreciate LeMond making sure there's an open discussion about this, instead of everyone just being enamored with Mr. Livestrong and dusting any doping suspicions under the rug.
No one cares about cycling, so we'll get back to football, but for those who love a little good vs evil rivalry, this is something to keep your eye on.
Armstrong addresses industry, LeMond crashes party [CyclingNews]