Lance Armstrong Details Physician Michele Ferrari Introducing Him to EPO

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2020

TERRAMALL, COSTA RICA - NOVEMBER 02:  Lance Armstrong of the United States rides up a hill during day 2 of La Ruta de Los Conquistadores on November 2, 2018 in Terramall, Costa Rica. La Ruta de Los Conquistadores is Costa RicaÕs premier mountain bike race, and one of the most difficult races in the world. It is a 3-day stage race that crosses Costa Rica from the Pacific Coast in the west to the Caribbean coast in the east.
Between its sea-level start and finish, the 161-mile route crosses 5 mountain ranges that force you climb a cumulative 29,000 feet.  The route snakes through tropical rain forest, 12,000 feet volcanoes, banana plantations and tiny farm towns. It covers every imaginable riding surfaceÑ single track and fire road trails, gravel, hard-packed dirt, pavement, thigh-deep mud, sand, volcano ash, and more. 
The race was started in 1993 by Roman Urbina. Urbina, an elite athlete and adventurer, read about three Spanish Conquistadors, Juan de Cavall—n, Peraf‡n de Rivera, and Juan V‡squez de Coronado,
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

One of the most memorable moments of the first part of ESPN's documentary Lance, which aired Sunday, was when seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong opened up about physician and cycling coach Michele Ferrari introducing him to EPO blood doping.  

"Whatever he said, I did," Armstrong said. "To the word. Ferrari was a proponent of less is more. ... He said, 'Lance, all you need is red cells.'"

That Armstrong trusted Ferrari so much is notable considering he also said he always asked and knew what was going into his body during another interview for the documentary.

"I educated myself on what was being given, and I chose to do it," he said.

Armstrong also discussed the history of EPO doping in the sport of cycling in part of the documentary, noting the rumors truly started circulating in 1993 even though what he called the "plague" had actually begun in the 1980s.

He said since the benefits from a performance standpoint were so notable, "the sport went from low-octane doping, which has always existed, to this really high-octane rocket fuel." However, he also called it a "safe drug" if "taken in conservative amounts," suggesting there are "far worse things you can put in your body."

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Lance is the first 30 for 30 ESPN has broadcasted since the conclusion of The Last Dance documentary, which chronicled Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990s.

Armstrong's story comes with plenty of highs and lows since he became one of the most famous athletes in the world with seven straight Tour de France wins from 1999 to 2005 and experienced a downfall in the court of public opinion because of doping.

He was also diagnosed with metastatic testicular cancer that spread in his body, and he helped raise millions of dollars for cancer relief through the Livestrong foundation.

In April 2018, Armstrong reached a settlement with the federal government and agreed to pay $5 million instead of going to trial with approximately $100 million at stake. What's more, he paid former teammate Floyd Landis $1.65 million as part of the settlement.

Landis was the whistleblower on the sport's doping issues and admitted to doping himself.

The federal government filed the lawsuit on behalf of the U.S. Postal Service, which served as one of Armstrong's primary sponsors during his career. The government said it would never have sponsored him if it knew about the doping.

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