A day after officially announcing his comeback to professional cycling, Lance Armstrong made an appearance at the Interbike trade show to give the cycling media and industry an opportunity to hear more details of his plans, including the special testing by Don Catlin of the UCLA anti-doping lab. Catlin joined him on stage along with American Taylor Phinney who will lead Armstrong's new developmental team.
Sitting in the front row, asking the first question was another Tour de France champion and outspoken critic of Armstrong, Greg LeMond. Cyclingnews was on hand to hear the plans and questioning from the industry, including LeMond.
Lance Armstrong has been busy over the past two days, even for him. Yesterday he addressed the world about his plans to return to professional cycling at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York City. He then gave his own press conference in New York before boarding his private jet to make it to Las Vegas in time for the Cross Vegas cyclo-cross race. After a day that essentially began at 2:30 a.m. local Vegas time, he ended his day in 22nd place and with the largest throng of media around him.
But the next morning he was back up early for a 9:00 a.m. press conference with more than 100 people waiting with questions. He began with a summary of the already reported news. "I announced my official return to professional cycling in New York City, then got beat up a little bit last night in the cyclo-cross event, which felt great!" he joked. "But I thought it was essential that we be here at the trade show to allow you the opportunity to ask questions."
"There have been a couple of updates since yesterday: I changed my mind! Just kidding. It crossed my mind about 20 minutes into Cross Vegas last night – 'are you sure you want to do this?' "
"The one update from yesterday is that I will now be doing the Tour of California. I will be starting with the Tour Down Under, then heading to training camp and then going to the Tour of California."
In the first seat of the front row was former Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, who led off the questioning with some pointed ones, all surrounding the theme of questioning the reasonability of the planned special testing of Armstrong by Don Catlin of the UCLA lab.
"I see Mr. Greg LeMond is here," Armstrong said somewhat wryly, but allowed him to have the first question.
LeMond pressed Armstrong and Catlin about the type of testing they had planned. He levied some reasonable critiques, essentially calling into question the proposed testing, arguing that it is not comprehensible enough, such as using T/E ratios and tests for specific EPO drugs as opposed to measuring physiological variables such as power output changes over time. LeMond inferred that a spike in power output would better indicate the use of something compared to trying to test for particular substances.
"That is not my area," responded Catlin. "He will be subject to testing by everyone under the sun. I think that will be all sorted out."
Catlin said that the actual program is still taking shape. "[Lance] has agreed to a couple of a few very fundamental points. One is his data, like T/E ratio and all that kind of stuff that a doping control is allowed to do will be on the web, so you can see it. 'Ah, your T/E ration changed today, what happened?' Like to see if he is taking EPO – all the actors to make it a very public campaign."