I considered myself a Lance Armstrong fan but as the evidence grew, I started to resign myself to accepting that he was doping. Then I read this and realized it he was cheating the entire time.
Beginning with his first doping experiences as a member of the U.S Postal Service team in 1997, Hamilton reveals not only what he and other riders were doing and taking (EPO, steroids, testosterone, Actovegin, blood transfusions, and on and on), but also how they were taking it (in the case of EPO, intravenously—and Hamilton has the scar to prove it). He tells us how most riders evaded detection (one trick: French laws bar testers from showing up between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., so cyclists “microdosed” EPO at ten and the drug was gone by morning) and how the game was rigged in a way that made testing nearly irrelevant (“If you were careful and paid attention,” writes Hamilton, “you could dope and be 99 percent certain that you would not get caught”). Supporters still clinging to the claim that Armstrong passed more than 500 drug controls will be shocked to learn how insignificant those tests really were.
He goes on
The drugs are everywhere, and as Hamilton explains, Armstrong was not just another cyclist caught in the middle of an established drug culture — he was a pioneer pushing into uncharted territory. In this sense, the book destroys another myth: that everyone was doing it, so Armstrong was, in a weird way, just competing on a level playing field. There was no level playing field. With his connections to Michele Ferrari, the best dishonest doctor in the business, Armstrong was always “two years ahead of what everybody else was doing,” Hamilton writes. Even on the Postal squad there was a pecking order. Armstrong got the superior treatments.
What ultimately makes the book so damning, however, is that it doesn’t require readers to put their full faith in Hamilton’s word. In the book’s preface, which details its genesis, Coyle not so subtly addresses Armstrong’s supporters by pointing out that, while the story is told through Hamilton, nine former Postal teammates agreed to cooperate with him on The Secret Race, verifying and corroborating Hamilton’s account. Nine teammates.
And about those 500 passed drug tests
The 2011 60 Minutes story on Armstrong’s doping reported that he had once failed a drug test in 2001 at the Tour of Switzerland, a story Hamilton backs up: “Yes, Lance Armstrong tested positive at the Tour of Switzerland.” He describes an encounter with Armstrong just after Stage 9 of the race. “You won’t fucking believe this,” he allegedly told Hamilton. “I got popped for EPO.” According to the 60 Minutes investigation, the UCI stepped in after the positive test, requesting that “the matter go no further,” and then set up a meeting between the lab’s director, Armstrong, and team director Johan Bruyneel. The insinuation is clear: Lance was using connections within the UCI to help his cause. Hamilton describes a climate in which this doesn’t seem at all far-fetched. “Sometime after that, I remember Lance phoning Hein Verbruggen from the team bus … and I was struck by the casual tone of the conversation. Lance was talking to the president of the UCI, the leader of the sport. But he may as well have been talking to a business partner, a friend.”
I leave the last word to Lance Armstrong.
I kind of feel sorry for him.