Bald headed Italian climber and self styled “Pirate” Marco Pantani has been forced to walk the plank. He’s been sentenced to 3 months in prison for yet another series of drugs offences, despite his continued protestations of innocence. He plans to lodge an appeal.
In the other mouldering doping story of the Pro peloton, Lance Armstrong has lost his rag with the investigation into the US postal team and their alleged use of doping products.
On his website he states; “Here’s the bottom line to everyone: I’ll start by saying that we are completely innocent. We run a very clean and professional team that has been singled out due to our success. It has been a very frustrating situation that will absolutely be cleared up – I’m confident of that. I’m not going to give a politically vague response like “We’ve never tested positive” because that’s not fair either. I will say that the substance on people’s minds, Activ-o-something (Actovegin) is new to me. Before this ordeal I had never heard of it, nor had my teammates.” He continues, “It’s pretty simple – our team doctor is on the road with us for three weeks (during the Tour de France) to treat a group of 25-50 people. If something were to go wrong with any of them he would be responsible for their well-being. That’s why he would have things like adrenaline, cortisone, scissors, stitches, etc. Some may be viewed as “performance enhancers” but they’re not used in that sense. And to so incorrectly call something a substitute for doping is clueless and irresponsible. I can assure everyone we do everything in the highest moral standard.”
He finishes his statement with the declaration that “if the current situation exists then I will not ride the Tour in 2001. Period. I’m not saying that to “threaten” or “warn” anyone as I really don’t think the French care either way if I go.”
Whether or not Armstrong will choose to skip the Tour in favour of the Vuelta and Giro won’t be clear until later in the season, but as he stands on the verge of a possible Tour hat-trick (and equalling fellow American Greg Lemond’s 3 time win record) it’s a big ball to take home.