Posted by Editor on 02/27/13
We recently received a copy of Irish writer David Walsh's new book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong, which we will be reviewing in the coming days. In it, he talks about the long process of documenting his allegations of doping by Armstrong and others, and includes descriptions of the many interviews he conducted.
One of those interviews was with New Zealand rider Stephen Swart, who rode on the Motorola team with Armstrong and Canada's Steve Bauer, specifically during the 1995 Tour de France.
There is a section on pages 231-235 where Swart talks about pressure to perform and that the riders would have to start doping, specifically EPO. Walsh writes:
"He [Armstrong] told the team that if they were going to go to the Tour they were going to have to produce. Armstrong didn't spell out explicitly what he intended to do or when he was going to start doing it. There were no rocket scientists on the ride that day but they all worked out what he meant."
Further on, Walsh writes that Swart describes at the Tour the entire team doing haematocrit testing: "The machine could process ten samples at once so everyone got tested. The numbers were called out like a lotto. Stephen [Swart] was around 46, 47, which in the brave new world was sort of lamentable. Pretty much everybody else including Lance was 50 or above."
This was troubling to me, because it insinuates that Steve Bauer was involved in doping, as part of the 'everybody'. Bauer's name is not mentioned anywhere else, and there are no direct allegations that he doped, but still, it left a worrying niggle in my mind - an unfortunate by-product of the current atmosphere in professional sport.
So, I reached out to Steve, sending him the pages to read, and then asking three questions (by e-mail). Below are the questions I asked, and Steve's responses, verbatim:
Question: Were you aware of the allegations in David Walsh's new book prior to my contacting you?
Answer: No. I have not read the book nor was I aware until you contacted me.
Question: In it he alleges from his interview with Stephen Swart that everyone on the 1995 Motorola Tour squad was using EPO, and you were on that team - were you using EPO or is this allegation wrong?
Answer: “First and foremost, please let me correct you as your question is incorrect. There is no allegation in the book that everyone used EPO and no allegation that I used EPO.
There is broad, purposeful vagueness and insinuation in the words of the journalist and his interpretation of the interview by using words like “feeling” “and others”, “I can’t remember” “pretty much”, “he tells this as if unsure”, “lucky to be alive”.
How does this sit with you? ; Pretty much everybody goes to church!, Pretty much everybody knows how to speak French in Canada, Pretty much everybody who love cycling will be at the Toronto bike show.”
I have been fighting doping my entire career and brought that culture to our Canadian team. I am extremely proud of my performances racing clean. No, I was not using EPO.
Question: How do your recollections of the 1995 Tour square with what Walsh writes?
Answer: “I do not recall nor was aware of what the journalist writes. My recollection of that Tour was a very difficult tour because it was not one of my better races. I don’t remember how I finished or what performances I had. Even I would have to research it. Earlier that year I needed to abandon mid race at Tour Dupont with hamstring tendonitis and thus my build up to Tour fitness following the injury was a likely a bit short and I did not race well. Everyone in the peloton suffered with the tragic death of Fabio Casartelli, a young Olympic Champion of the Barcelona Olympics. This is my recollection of sadness which is quite different from what the journalist is describing”
I had a follow up question:
I would like to ask you your opinion [/] feelings about the current situation regarding Armstrong, but that is a different topic, so if you don't want to go there, that is fine.
Answer: I have not paid a tremendous amount of attention to it other than the fact that pro cycling is feeling impacts of the situation which is unfortunate. There are much more positive things to focus on for 2013.
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