Third Wheel…Lance Armstrong accused of using performance enhancing drugs

Seven times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has been accused of using performance enhancing drugs by his former team-mate, Floyd Landis in a series of emails sent to officials at USA cycling and the International Cycling Union according to the Wall Street Journal.

Pat McQuaid, head of UCI, cycling’s governing body believes that Landis may be “seeking revenge” and may hold a “grudge” against Armstrong.

The newspaper claims Landis’s emails confessed to his own use of performance enhancing drugs. In a recent interview Landis revealed using drugs for the majority of his career. He was the first rider to be stripped of a Tour crown when he lost an appeal against a two year suspension after failing a drug test following his 2006 Tour de France victory.

Landis claimed along with other American cyclists, he learnt to use steroids, conduct blood transfusions and take blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO).

Armstrong has always denied allegations of drug use. He has never failed a drug test.

Landis further claimed Armstrong and his coach had, in 2002, paid an International Cycling Union official to conceal the results of a test in which Armstrong allegedly tested positive for EPO.

The revelations and allegations come in a week where Spanish rider, Mikel Astarloza was handed a two year suspension after testing positive test for EPO. The Spaniard announced his intention to appeal on his website:

"I want to publicly announce that I have received a letter from the RFEC [the Spanish federation] notifying me that I am officially suspended until 26 June 2011 for having broken International Cycling Union rules,"

"I maintain that I have done nothing wrong…I will appeal this suspension to the relevant authorities."

Astarloza failed a similar test out-of-competition last June and was given a provisional suspension on 31 July 2009.

Last month Switzerland's Thomas Frei tested positive for EPO and was suspended by his racing team, BMC.

Team president Jim Ochowicz said: "After Thomas Frei was officially informed by Anti-doping Switzerland that he was tested A-positive regarding the use of EPO, he confessed his doping violation to the team management.

“The BMC Racing Team will now separate from Thomas Frei but thank the rider for his honesty to confess his failure."

BMC had previously hit Alessandro Ballan and Mauro Santambrogio with provisional suspensions for their part in a doping investigation in their own country while with the Lampre team.

Landis’ emails claim that the work that anti-doping officials are doing to clean up the sport is “a charade”. If this is true I dread to think how many of cyclists are using illegal performance enhancers.

Published May 21, 2010

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