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Reports: 'Performance-enhancing' drug used by Lance Armstrong was not effective

The celebrated cyclist was stripped of his prestigious achievements after being accused of drug abuse

What’s the story?

A recent study has discovered the drug that led to cyclist Lance Armstrong’s downfall may only have little or no effect on the performance of the athletes.

The context

In 2012, legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong was stripped off his seven Tour De France titles and banned from the Olympics for life after he admitted to having used the drug erythropoietin (EPO).

The heart of the matter

The study revealed that taking the drug improved the participants’ performance in the high-intensity tests in a laboratory environment. However, it didn’t affect athletes’ performances in a road race. The effects of the drug were limited to increase in haemoglobin and adhesion levels in the body.

For the tests, there were two groups of participants. One group had the drug injected every week for eight weeks. The other group was injected with an alternative saline solution that acted as a placebo.

The first test was a ramp test, to evaluate the resistance to increase in pedalling and the second tested endurance at the highest power output that lasted 45 minutes.

The third and final assessment was held twelve days after the drug consumption and comprised of a 110 km cycle race followed by a 21.5 km road race up Mont Ventoux, a common circuit used by Tour De France.

The tests concluded that the gross efficiency, heart rate and other respiratory parameters did not vary between both the groups and were close to none in the context of a real-world cycling race. This leads us to the belief that the drugs consumed by Armstrong may not have affected his performance in anyway.

What’s next?

While there has been no official statement recorded from Lance Armstrong regarding the same, if what the study quotes is true, then the natural course of action calls for his titles to be reinstated by all means.

Author’s take

The story of Lance Armstrong has oscillated between inspiring and disappointing for a rather long time and this study seems to bring some kind of closure to it. If the study ends up being accepted as reliable evidence, it could be a game changer for not only Armstrong but also anti-doping agencies around the world.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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