Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Drug testers take blood, sweat and tears - Armstrong's behaviour 'unusual'?

Just what constitutes 'unusual' behaviour when 'surprised' by the blood, urine and hair-sample-taking team I don't know:

Lance Armstrong's behaviour during his 24th anti-doping control since returning to the sport may have landed the American in hot water with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD). L'Equipe has reported that AFLD, which conducted the March 17 out-of-competition test, submitted a report to the International Cycling Union (UCI) and WADA on March 30. The report apparently details the abnormal behaviour observed before and during the surprise visit from the French agency.

Did he run away? Slam the door? Abuse them? Or is this L'Equipe beating things up? He is recovering from a broken collarbone, so maybe he was a bit tetchy... I would be. Later, Armstrong's rebuttal came and it was quite reasonable - someone turned up to take samples who simply didn't appear convincingly authorised to do so, so they checked on his credentials:

"I returned home that day after a long training ride to find a man chasing me as I rode up to the house. He stopped me and told me he was from the French laboratory and was here to test me. I had never heard of labs or governments doing drug testing and I had no idea who this guy was or whether he was telling the truth.

Despite all of that reasonableness, the "drug testing laboratory" in question was concerned about the 20 minute delay between turning up and actually getting the samples. Without wanting to get carried away about it, having a shower could have been a cover for time to take a masking drug, but then again it could just have been a shower. In any case 20 mins is not long enough to mask much, especially so when blood, urine and hair was taken. Surely he didn't get a hair transplant in 20mins?

Postscript: The UCI's Pat McQuaid wonders aloud what the AFLD is doing: "Normal proceedings between institutions such as national anti-doping agencies, the international federation and the World anti-doping agency (WADA) are normally done in a professional and confidential way until a decision or sanction has been taken," he continued. "In this case it was leaked to the press and I do find that disturbing."