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Could Armstrong Dope Without Doping?

Somehow I think the whole Lance Armstrong doping debate is never going to go away until somebody comes up with a plausible answer that people can live with.  Now, I don't have any more insider information than anyone else, but in the course of discussing Armstrong with some friends (who do have some insider information into general doping practices and the human anatomy), I heard a pretty plausible theory on the Armstrong enigma.

There are a couple facts that need to be established right from the beginning.  There does exist a medical record that shows Armstrong to be a phenomenal athlete.  I'm not talking about his string of victories in athletic events, I'm talking about the blood and tissue tests that have been done on the guy since he was in his teens.  Had Armstrong only won one or two Tours, I don't think he'd be in the news.  The consensus is, yes, he had the "stuff" to win the tour legitimately.  The problem people have is that he utterly dominated it for 7 consecutive years, a feat that was beyond the ability of any other tour champion, French, Spanish, Belgian or otherwise.

The question I have is this: what did Armstrong's cancer and treatment do to his ability to produce testosterone?

Ok, I'm not a doctor (you'll note that I keep having to emphasize my total lack of qualifications to even have an opinion here for legal reasons...I mean seriously...that's a GRAND JURY after Armstrong and I don't want them coming after me) but isn't it plausible to think that removing a testicle and banging on the other one with a hammer would inhibit your ability to produce testosterone (again, they probably don't hammer your testicle to cure cancer, but they do throw it in a microwave don't they)?

So...is it fair to assume that Armstrong medically lost the ability to produce a normal amount of testosterone...and if that's the case, does he have an exemption from the world doping agency to artificially regulate his testosterone levels?  I mean, isn't that a medical necessity for the guy?

I know we have some doctors on CyclovaXC, so one of you needs to pipe in on here and tell me how plausible that assumption is.  But for the moment, let's just assume that Armstrong is allowed to inject himself with testosterone legally.

So...if that's the case...isn't it true that in a normal human being the naturally occurring level of testosterone fluctuates?  The result of this would be that if you were just relying on natural testosterone levels, you would have high and low days while training and racing.  Armstrong, however (in my hypothetical testosterone exemption hypothesis), would be allowed to maintain his testosterone consistently at the "just below" legal limit both while training and racing...which would be enough of an advantage to propel an athlete who is legitimately capable of winning a few tours naturally into a guy who dominates it for seven years.

Therefore, by taking advantage of a legal exemption, Armstrong could regulate his own testosterone level perfectly legally...essentially dope without doping.

Honestly, this whole idea might be completely crazy, but the thing I find annoying is that with all the "brilliant" minds working on this case, shouldn't somebody have mentioned this before...even if just to dismiss it?

I'm curious to hear what you guys think about this so please leave some comments.


  1. Testosterone is secreted by the interstital cells of leydig in the testes, but only when they are stimulated by LH from the pituitary gland in your brain. Furthermore, the quantity of testosterone secreted increases approximately in direct proportion to the amount of LH available. I don't want to go on in detail more about functional endocrinology but testosterone clearly is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular markers with low testosterone. Testosterone also effects your energy and red blood cell formation. As testosterone levels decline so does the production of red blood cell count. Inversely, as testosterone levels increase, so does the red blood cell count. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to the tissues. Oxygen is then used by the mitochondria of via oxidative phosphorlation to produce ATP.
    I'm not aware if he was taking exogenous testosterone. To my knowledge there is no medically legal condition where he can be testing above certain levels. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong. Lance Armstrong is a freak of nature, but with his own teammates who I believe are credible coming out with statements that he doped and all the history of the cheating in this sport I"d love for him to come out with the truth. The problem is he has a brand name called livestrong and there is money in marketing and in cancer, it's big business. Ok, my two cents, back to patients.

  2. Thanks for the technical response Steve. So, in your professional opinion, how much would his cancer affect his ability to produce natural testosterone?

  3. The fact that he won 7 tours is amazing and makes people suspicious. But the fact that almost all of his competition has now been busted or admitted to doping, really makes him suspect. He is an awesome athlete and if no one cyclist ever doped, maybe he would have still won 7. We won't know. To me it looks like he doped and I could live with that if he wasn't so adamant that he is clean.

  4. Yeah, but what about the idea that he could have legally had a chemical advantage with this testosterone hypothesis? Does that seem possible?

  5. He still has one testicle so when LH stimulated by brain the teste that is remaining will work. The body adapts and I bet the same amount is being produced as if two were there. Not sure on this, but educated guess. The sport needs to be cleaned up and hopefully the new generation of bikers can go forward and gett he sport back on the map like it used to be.