Hematocrit fluctuations said to be basis for case
Blood is at the heart of the USADA's case against Lance Armstrong, specifically 38 blood samples taken from 2008 to 2012, in the custody of the USADA, and which are said to show suspicious fluctuations, an American newspaper reported. The American anti-doping agency hopes to use those tests along with witnesses to establish that Armstrong used banned drugs or methods.
The samples were taken between October 16, 2008, and April 30, 2012, so they include his three “comeback” years of 2009 to 2011 with Astana and RadioShack. The samples were “subjected to a battery of scientific tests in accredited laboratories.,” and have since then been “carefully stored”, according to the New York Daily News. Fifteen of the tests date from 2010 to 2012.
According to the newspaper, the blood samples show major fluctuations in his hematocrit ratio. For example, it said, his hematocrit on May 31 2009, was 38.2% but 45.7% only a few weeks later, on June 16.
It is expected that Armsrong will challenge this evidence “by summoning medical experts who may say that a person's hematocrit score could conceivably jump 7.5 percentage points in 16 days because of external influences like changes in altitude and heavy perspiration.” For example, he was in Aspen, Colorado, USA, at nearly 8000 feet above sea level between the two above-mentioned tests.
USADA is expected to provide its own experts who will rebut that argument and claim that the numbers reflect the use of illegal products or methods.