How did lance armstrong not get caught for doping for so many years? If its that hard to get caught then should we be worried about other althletes?

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How did lance armstrong not get caught for doping for so many years? If its that hard to get caught then should we be worried about other althletes?

In: 46

Oh my yes.

Armstrong said it himself, everybody dopes. Especially the winners.

As for how he himself managed to get away with it for so long (although I think he was caught using some kind of steroid in the 90’s) here’s an article that details his “both cunning and farcical methods”:

https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/12/sports/cycling/how-lance-armstrong-beat-cyclings-drug-tests.html

Armstrong hired experts at doping who not only knew about the latest and greatest drugs and how to incorporate them in a training regime but also exactly how the anti-doping agencies worked and what they were able to detect and how. So they planned the entire season including training sessions and competitions around how they were getting the best out of each drug and how to avoid getting caught.

The hard part about detecting these drugs is that most of the drugs they take are the exact same chemicals that the body makes naturally but in different quantities. In some types of doping you are even tricking the body into making its own drugs. So while you may be able to detect a certain chemical that is supposed to be there and it is hard to prove that the chemical is the process of doping rather then naturally generated by the body.

A typical regime would include injecting steroids during the off season to promote muscle growth during training. Then a period without any drugs to get them out of your system. Then taking out lots of blood from your system to be used later. For the buildup to the season you would take EPO to promote the production of more red blood cells. This can be kept up throughout the competition season. Other drugs such as pain killers and verious hormone treatments may also be taken to help restitution and to make it easier to compete. If the EPO is not enough to give you superhuman blood count then use some of the blood from the off-season and give yourself a blood transfusion.

Armstrong was not the only cyclist who were doping himself. There are few people he competed against who we can clear of doping, largely because they were losing to all the doped riders. The Tour de France have even given up trying to hand out some of their gold medals as the previous holder was found to be doping because they have to go so far down the list of competitors that there is no point any more. And cycling is not the only sport with doped athletes.

The good news is that we are actually catching the doped athletes. Sometimes years after the fact but we are getting much better at it. Samples taken at events can be stored for long times until they can be tested using new techniques. And it have become more and more common to test throughout the year so that athletes can not dope themselves during the off-season. And we will notice jumps in natural hormones.

He did get caught in the middle of his career for a minor infraction (Cortiosteriod use). The Union Cyclist International (UCI) the world governing body covered it up.

But the long answer is that there were three eras of cheating in cycling: The old school 1890s-1980s way where they essentially just took black betty amphetamines to improve performance. This was before Lance and before LeMond and an era where most US fans did not follow cycling.

Late 80s-late 90s: This was the just testosterone era. Perhaps the best era to watch as a fan. A 191 lb person riding a 24lb bike won the Tour De France (Miguel Indurain). Riders were big and they were literally having to cut their jersey sleeves to fit their biceps. Indurain, Riis, Armstrong

Early 90s-00s: Testosterone + EPO/Blood Doping Era. AMGEN, a california bio tech company developed EPO as a way of improving cardiovascular efficiency. This was immediately used by the peloton as a performance enhancer. This was dangerous as EPO at their levels of dose were causing the riders to have thick blood and at a danger of heart attacks. So they started saying your EPO (hematocrit) ratio had to be under 55, then later under 50. If you were over 49.5 they would hold you out. So as a way of cheating they would give themselves blood transfusions with non EPO blood to give them a false reading under 49.5 when they were really way over. This era had the fastest riders Top Riders: Contador, Armstrong, Froome, Wiggins, Pantanti (RIP Pirata)

Nowadays people use EPO but in micro doses and during the offseason a bit. They use the biological passport that the Olympics uses so the key to EPO cheating is to have your ‘natural’ level on your passport be elevated already. Test is also used in the offseason.

The major cheating now is with Anti-Wasting drugs. There are a number of drugs that promote keeping lean muscle when the body is run at a deficiency. These are used for MS patients and people with AIDS. That is why the riders today are skinnier compared to even 10 years ago. They haven’t really found a reliable way to catch the wasting-drug cheating yet.

Doping is found in every elite sport. The guys who win all the medals and championships are just the ones who haven’t been caught.

There is a very good documentary on Netflix called Icarus. Goes in depth on doping and how easy it is to.circumvent testing. It focuses primarily on the state sponsored doping program in Russia for the Olympics but it apples for cycling as well. At the end of the day Armstrong never got caught via testing. He got caught because he treated people very poorly and people narc’d him out.