If Jeffrey Novitzky and his legal team are looking for an expert witness to appear before the Grand Jury and give his opinion on whether Lance Armstrong took EPO while riding for U.S. Postal, he may want to consider Dr. Michael Ashenden. Ashenden is one of the scientists who designed the tests used to detect EPO and has gone on record as saying:
"So there is no doubt in my mind he (Lance Armstrong) took EPO during the '99 Tour."Ashenden's statement is found at this link when he was interviewed by NYVelocity in 2009. The whole interview is packed with details about the tests for EPO, how Lance may have avoided detection, and statements that, at best, cast doubt on Lance's innocence, and at worst, are very convincing that Lance was doping during his career.
When expert witnesses are brought into fraud trials, they first are asked questions to establish that they have the credentials to be considered an expert. From what I read in this interview, Ashenden would pass that test with flying colors. Beginning with his PhD thesis, Ashenden has been studying the effects of doping on cyclist's blood.
Ashenden goes on to explain the tests that were conducted in 2005 on 1999 Tour de France riders when better EPO tests came out. At the time, 87 samples were tested from 1999 and 13 of them were positive, meaning they showed EPO was in the urine of Tour riders. Of the 13 positives, almost half (6), turned out to be Lance's urine. Ashenden explains in great detail that these tests were performed properly and that the lab had no idea whose samples they were testing.
So what about the claim that Lance Armstrong keeps making that he has never been shown to fail a drug test? Well, according to this expert, he would refute that claim. However, Armstrong is apparently able to make that claim because of a ruling that dismissed this test because they didn't have another sample. You see, athletes can claim someone tampered with their sample unless there are two samples and the second sample also confirms the test. This is what Armstrong has claimed.
Ashenden dismisses this possiblity by saying:
There was only two conceivable ways that synthetic EPO could've gotten into those samples. One, is that Lance Armstrong used EPO during the '99 Tour, and we've since found out that there were teammates from US Postal in that '99 Tour that have since admitted using EPO while riding for US Postal in that Tour.
The other way it could've got in the urine was if, as Lance Armstrong seems to believe, the laboratory spiked those samples. Now, that's an extraordinary claim, and there's never ever been any evidence the laboratory has ever spiked an athlete's sample, even during the Cold War, where you would've thought there was a real political motive to frame an athlete from a different country.
However, Lance Armstrong made that claim. Now, it's very easy to go back and assess the possibility of that scenario. We know the laboratory could not have known which samples belonged to Lance Armstrong. And we also know from the results, how many of Lance Armstrong's samples had EPO in them, and when during the race it occurred. Now the odds of the laboratory randomly selecting Lance Armstrong's samples out of those 87 samples, and let's just do it conservatively, just 6 times, 6 times they got his samples correct out of 87 possible tubes, the odds of that occurring are at least 1 in 300.
Ashenden then talks about the pattern of the amounts of EPO found in the urine samples. The pattern, according to Ashenden, is what you would expect to see in the Tour de France and would be almost impossible for the lab to replicate if they were spiking Armstrong’s samples. In the end, here is Ashenden’s conclusion:
What would you think if you were on the Grand Jury hearing an expert like Ashenden make these statements?There is no doubt in my mind these samples contain synthetic EPO, they belong to Lance Armstrong, and there's no conceivable way that I can see that a lab could've spiked them in a way that the data has presented itself. So there is no doubt in my mind he took EPO during the '99 Tour.