Ashenden: Armstrong may have been blood-doping at 2009 Tour de France

An analysis of blood samples from the 2009 Tour de France, as reflected in Lance Armstrong's biological passport, indicates that Armstrong may have been blood doping during that first comeback year, Michael Ashenden has claimed.

Ashenden, who previously worked on the UCI's biological passport programme, told California Watch, an investigative journalism group, that “an analysis of blood samples drawn in 2009, contained in an earlier court filing, suggests that Armstrong was recklessly using banned doping methods,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The passport entries show that the cyclist “produced fewer young blood cells than would be expected, Ashenden said. That suggests his system was adapting to the presence of an extra volume of blood that had been re-infused,” the report said.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has issued a lifetime ban against Armstrong, and disqualified all his results going back to August 1998.  As part of their evidence, USADA claimed that his blood value “was consistent with” blood doping.

According to California Watch, Ashenden said that the rider's blood should have become thinner during the three-week race, a natural result of the stress and strain of the race. But that did not happen, and his blood remained consistent.

“The absence of a natural decline in blood concentration during a three-week race is also consistent with blood doping,” Ashenden said.

Armstrong has consistently denied using any sort of doping, and his spokesman, attorney Mark Fabiani reiterated that theme.

The blood date is “no evidence at all,” he said, adding, “The rules are clear to everyone but USADA: You either pass a drug test, or you fail it. There is no in between. Lance Armstrong has passed every test ever given to him, including every test administered during the 2009 Tour de France.”

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