Lance Armstrong shouldn't hold his breath waiting for a congratulatory phone call from Greg LeMond, the only other American to have won the Tour de France. "To be honest, I haven't watched any of the Tour this year," LeMond said last Friday from his home in suburban Minneapolis. "I've been fishing for the last three weeks in Montana, so I don't know very much about what's going on."
But as LeMond spoke, it became clear that he believes he knows more than a little about what's going on. "I was deeply saddened," he said, "to hear about Lance's relationship with Dr. Michele Ferrari," who is awaiting trial in Italy on charges of providing riders with erythropoietin (EPO), a banned substance that increases red-blood-cell count. On the eve of the Tour, The Sunday Times of London reported that Armstrong had visited Ferrari five times since March 1999. "Have I been tested by him, gone there and consulted on certain things?" Armstrong told the paper. "Perhaps."
Visits prove nothing, of course. Armstrong has been among the most frequently drug-tested riders over the last three years and has never failed a test. He describes Ferrari as a friend he came to know in the "small community" of cycling, and at a press conference on July 23 he called him "a fair man and an innocent man...Let there be a trial."
There will be a trial. Among the names likely to arise is that of Kevin Livingston, Armstrong's former domestique and friend, whose name appears in confiscated files of the good doctor, according to The Sunday Times. "I wish with all my heart that the story is the way he [ Armstrong] tells it," said Lemond. "Ferrari is a cancer in sports, and it's sad that Lance has had a five-year relationship with him. I would have all the praise in the world for Lance if I thought he was clean, but until Dr. Ferrari's trial, we can't know for sure. It sounds like I'm bitter or jealous about Lance Armstrong, but I'm not."