I’m a night-owl and like to sleep in late. This past Thursday, 7:00 a.m., I was awakened by a phone call from my publisher. As a rule I don’t answer my publisher’s calls and let them go to voice mail. “Neil, wake up! They found Floyd positive. Find out what’s going on and call me back!” After several days of researching, this is what I’ve found out.
First off, let’s all take a collective breath and settle down. First, he is not positive for anything. At this point all that has been identified is an abnormality. An abnormality in his ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone. As I write this we are still waiting for the “B” sample to confirm whether that finding is accurate. As Floyd has said, more than likely the “B” sample will come back affirming that his ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone in his body is greater than the 4:1 ratio that the UCI has set as a threshold. But let’s look at the facts: if he was taking testosterone he would have need to have been on a course of this drug for weeks, not the day after his disastrous stage 16 [Dr. G. Forbes, Journal of American Medical Assoc. 1992 page 397-399]. A person can’t take testosterone exogenously one day and the next have a miraculous turn. What the media has been stating is that Floyd has elevated testosterone, and that is simply not true. His ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone is greater than 4:1, which does not mean his testosterone is high. Also, testosterone is not a drug that a cyclist would take. Testosterone builds muscle mass, the last thing a Tour de France winner wants. Floyd’s doctor, Brent Kay, explained it on Larry King Live.
KING: How do you explain the high level of testosterone?
KAY: Well, I think that’s been one of the problems is that he does not have a high level of testosterone. That’s not been documented …
KAY: He has a high ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone in his urine.
KAY: Which could be due to an elevated testosterone level. It could be due to a lower epitestosterone level. And it could be due to a variety of other factors with handling and specimen contamination and various other things.
People have asked me, “But look at his comeback from his bad day to winning by eight-minutes the next.” If you know anything about the sport of cycling and the tactics employed this is easily explained. Stage 16 was a course full of undulations. With the pressure of the Yellow Jersey, he did what athletes sometimes do, forget to eat and drink enough, and he ran out of energy. The next day in Stage 17, with nothing to lose, he attacked on the first climb of the day. While a strong attack, it was nothing that his opponents couldn’t go with. Floyd gambled; he had nothing to lose and realized that the only way to make up the eight minutes loss from the previous day was to go early. The chase behind was unorganized. CSC and T-Mobile looked at the Yellow Jersey holder to chase. Oscar Pereiro didn’t want to put his men on the front and burn them out, so the peloton let Floyd go. On the climbs, the chasing peloton did claw back some time, but Floyd’s superior descending skills pulled back that lost time. And on the final climb Floyd lost some time, allowing Pereiro to retain the jersey by a hair. Allen Lim, one of Floyd’s trainers, had posted the watts generated during the stage (watts is the amount of energy produced). And while beyond the ability of ordinary riders, not unnaturally high, and within range of an athlete with Floyd’s ability. Floyd won that stage through guts, determination and luck, not due to any doping.
With Floyd winning the Tour, it was natural that he was going to be on our next cover of ROAD. Suddenly I was getting asked, “Are you still running Floyd on the cover?” My answer, ABSOLUTLY! Not for a second did we think of pulling the cover. I would also like to do something with Floyd on the following issue’s cover of ROAD for our Interbike issue, one of our biggest and important issues. That is how much I believe that Floyd is innocent. Unfortunately, Floyd and cycling will get dragged through the mud for a few weeks. I know that there will always be a group of haters that love to jump on a doping story and paint with broad strokes a dismal, dope-filled picture of cycling. If that’s what you want to do, there’s little I can say to open your mind. Scandal is all you can see. For now I ask people to look at the facts and don’t get caught up in the easy, hyped-up story of doping. Give Floyd the opportunity to defend himself.