Armstrong starts training

  • Associated Press
  • Sunday, November 30, 2008 4:41pm
  • SportsSports

Lance Armstrong is set to start training camp this week without having subjected himself to drug tests by the anti-doping expert he teamed with and with no deal in place to post results of those tests online.

When the seven-time Tour de France winner announced his comeback earlier this year, he partnered with renowned anti-doping expert Don Catlin to set up a testing program. Catlin said he thought it was important to make those results available to the public.

Catlin told The Associated Press this weekend that while Armstrong has been placed back in the testing pools at both the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and UCI, cycling’s international body, that he has yet to test him and that a plan to document Armstrong’s results online is not in place.

“We’re interested in getting it going,” Catlin said. “We have been chatting and are in negotiations.”

Armstrong came out of retirement to ride for Astana, which was scheduled to begin its preseason camp Sunday at Tenerife, in the Canary Islands. Astana was supposed to pay for Armstrong’s testing regimen.

Catlin said the details are complicated but the negotiations are ongoing.

“If they stop, that’s bad,” he said.

The 37-year-old cyclist asked Catlin to design a testing program that would prove he was clean. Armstrong never tested positive during his career, but suspicions ran rampant during his career and he wanted to avoid a repeat.

He teamed with Catlin, who ran America’s first anti-doping lab in UCLA for 25 years and recently left there to set up the nonprofit Anti-Doping Research to develop new ways of catching drug cheats.

Catlin has long been a proponent of performing baseline tests of athletes for a number of illegal substances, then comparing subsequent tests against the original results. It is widely considered a more accurate way of testing than the method most commonly used, but is also more expensive and time-intensive.

The UCI has begun performing baseline tests, and under Catlin’s program, Armstrong would presumably be tested the same way. Catlin also wants to freeze samples of Armstrong’s blood for tests in the future.

None of this, however, has been simple since Armstrong and Catlin agreed to work together in September.

“The program we want to do is going to be intensive,” Catlin said. “And he’s a moving target. He’s very busy. Keeping up with him, testing him, takes a lot of planning and it hasn’t all come together yet.”

But Catlin said he had confidence that the tests Armstrong has been subjected to in the USADA and UCI programs were enough to start.

“I’m not looking at that data yet and my data isn’t dovetailed with his yet, but eventually, that’s the plan,” Catlin said.

Armstrong is planning to race in the Tour Down Under in Australia on Jan. 20-25. The race comes a week sooner than the required six months Armstrong needed to be in the anti-doping testing pool before he could begin competing again. But the UCI said Armstrong could return early because its drug-testing standards have improved since the six-month rule was drawn up four years ago.

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