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Lance Armstrong on Froome case: 'Something is not right about the way this unfolded'

Nick Busca
21 Dec 2017

Lance Armstrong discusses Chris Froome's adverse control on the latest Stages podcast

Lance Armstorng has dedicated a whole episode of his Stages Podcast to the ‘Chris Froome Saga’. The American former Tour de France winner, who was stripped of his seven victories after confessing to doping, discussed Chris Froome's 'Adversed Analytical Finding' from last year's Vuelta a España.

The episode was recorded on Tuesday with Dylan Casey, a former teammate at the US Postal and now CEO of Armstrong’s brand Wedu.

'In my own insecure way, I was like, "I’m the last person who should be opining on this situation",' Armstrong says in the podcast.

'But something is not right about the way this unfolded, the way this leak… Just the chain of events doesn’t feel legitimate. And I’m not trying to pass judgment good or bad.'

Armstrong’s concerns around the matter – as he reminds listeners at the beginning of the episode – started in the summer, when Froome announced he would take part in the Vuelta, having already ridden the Tour de France.

'I’m just saying,' Armstrong continues, 'last summer during Stages I said it: why the f*** would you go do the Tour of Spain?

'You just won the Tour for the fourth time. You’ve got this beautiful wife and a beautiful baby. Go chill on a beach.'

After having given a description of Froome’s case as it unfolded last week, Armstrong then said he had tried using his fiancée’s inhaler (containing asthma drug salbutamol, as used by Froome at the Vuelta) before a ride to see what happened, because he wanted to do research for the show.

'I take three puffs, I go for my bike ride, and I wasn’t trying to go up a big mountain or trying win a stage or any bike race, but I was just cruising around, and for the record I didn’t feel anything rather than maybe a little fidgety.'

The show then continued with an explanation of whether salbutamol is a performance-enhancing substance, what the differences are when it’s inhaled or ingested, and what its effects are if it’s taken together with other substances.

However, at a certain point, the focus of the discussion shifted to a different aspect of the story – a point that was already anticipated at the beginning.

'I basically have a totally different perspective and interest on this,' says Casey. 'And that question is: why are we talking about this?

'The question we should be really asking is why did this get leaked to the press?

'Who benefits from whatever is going on here, because 100% there is some sort of political agenda that’s getting played out, and Chris Froome and Sky, and for that matter all the other teams and all the other riders, all the mechanics, the cooks, the secretary that works in the office and sends people the paperwork, they are all getting thrown under the bus by this political agenda.'

The point about the timing the news broke – and their belief it was not the result of an investigation, but actually a leak – has been touched upon very rarely in the last week.

'The timing of this,' adds Armstrong, 'this happens on the 18th stage of the Tour of Spain, so in September sometime, when the [UCI] President is Brian Cookson, who’s a Brit.

'About a month after that, at the World Championships, is where they have the elections every four years, Cookson loses the election to a French guy, David Lappartient.

'So he comes in; this entire controversy has spanned two different administrations and so, to me, when you have a shift or a change in administration, people come in and people go out.

'And so, while it happened under Cookson's watch, or on his watch, there were other people that knew. So, if you’re stressing the leak, there are plenty of people who could have leaked this.'

Being convinced that the story was leaked intentionally to the press by somebody with some specific interest, Armstrong also suggests where that might have come from.

'It’s only two organisations that could have leaked it and that is WADA or the UCI. And I mean, somebody with the touch point there,' Armstrong contests.

'A lot of stuff leaks, and it seems it happens a lot in our sport, I know it’s frustrating. There’s something fishy about this transition from the Cookson presidency or era to Lappartient’s.

'To me something happened in the middle of that transition.'

Finally, Armstrong poses another question regarding the future of Team Sky. Could the combination of Disney buying Fox and the Froome situation, mean the end of Team Sky?

'I posed this question to a great friend of mine, a journalist, who’s pretty dialled in.

'I expected him to say, no way, come on, but that was not the response I got. The response was: "absolutely".'