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Armstrong did what they all did then. It is difficult to find anyone in the top 10 of the TDF from 199 through 2005 who was not suspended for doping.

I'm really tired of this line of reasoning for a number of reasons. It discounts the fact that there were absolutely clean riders who didn't dope during that time and whose careers suffered because of it. The reason that you can't find them in the top 10 was because the dope was so effective, especially in grand tours like the Tour de France. The benefits gained from EPO and other oxygen-based doping meant that guys who once finished 30 minutes behind the leaders could now keep up and push the pace.

Not just that, but they could recover faster day to day. In the old days of the tour it was accepted that everyone (even the leaders) had at least one off day during a grand tour and the goal was to minimize the losses on those days. With EPO those off days ended.

One of Armstrong's advantages was doctor Ferrari (a hematologist BTW) who was one of the founding pioneers of EPO use. He masterminded the dominance of the Mapei team in the early '90s and famously said that EPO was no more dangerous than orange juice. He was involved with the development of the EPO testing and knew how to get around it. Just like how not everyone gets the same benefit from Tylonol not everyone gets the same benefit from EPO. Armstrong was a perfect candidate for EPO and oxygen-vector doping because his natural hematocrit level was fairly low. He was supposedly able to increase the oxygen carrying capability of his blood by upwards of 15%. In an endurance sport where the differences between winning and losing is less than 1% that's a pretty big advantage.

Finally, we'll never know for sure, but the after the Festina affair rocked the tour in '98 there was a possibility that the '99 tour could have been a turning point for doping in cycling. Teams were scared of jail time and most of them had abandoned team-sanctioned and supervised doping programs. Then Lance and the blue train came (almost out of nowhere) into the '99 Tour and blew that all our of the water.

Everything else in your post I agree with. He's a jerk.
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