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Anti-doping expert Don Catlin on Lance Armstrong’s confession, state of PED testing in sports

Lance Armstrong is scheduled to record an interview with Oprah on Monday where he reportedly will confess to doping and using other performance-enhancing drugs throughout his cycling career. Armstrong spent the past several years vigorously defending his reputation against all cheating allegations. At one point a few years ago, Armstrong was so intent on proving he was clean that he and his Astana racing team planned to hire Dr. Don Catlin’s Anti-Doping Research lab to constantly test him. Armstrong’s team was planning to post all the testing results on the Internet for transparency purposes. The deal fell through for several reasons — logistics and financial issues are a few of them — and Armstrong’s plan was abandoned.

On Saturday, Larry Brown Sports spoke with Dr. Catlin about Armstrong’s impending confession. Catlin, who is one of the founders of modern drug testing in sports and has provided testing for the NFL, NCAA, MLB, and Olympics, said he’s not surprised to learn of Armstrong’s usage and planned confession.

lance armstrong“It wouldn’t surprise me at all,” Catlin told LBS when asked about Armstrong’s cheating. “I think [a confession] would be good for him.”

Armstrong used to boast that he had never failed a drug test. Catlin says he still had some suspicion about Lance as he would with any top cyclist.

“You can’t help but have suspicion when somebody is so accomplished and so over-the-top as one of the key members of the sport of cycling. Cycling and doping go together and they have for 40 years,” Catlin said. “You have to think very seriously about [whether a cyclist is cheating].

“You don’t like to think that way; you’d like to think that Lance and others are clean, but in reality, that’s not the case.”

Catlin believes Armstrong is only confessing as a last option.

“I think he’s cornered. He can’t go anywhere now. I always advise athletes — particularly ones I test and caught and if I get to know them — get it out fast, confess, turn the page and go on. If you try to fight it, you’re almost certainly not going to win. Fighting a drug test and trying to show that it’s not a positive doesn’t work.”

When asked how Armstrong got away with doping for so long, Catlin indicated it’s not that difficult.

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