Readers of Chapter 4 of Numbers Rule Your World would not be surprised about the fall of Lance Armstrong. The big theme of the chapter is that any screening tests has to balance between false positives and false negatives. The anti-doping agencies are so concerned about not falsely accusing anyone that they leave a gigantic hole for dopers to walk through. Strings of negative tests, therefore, do not prove one innocent; however, even a single positive test could be quite telling.
While we think about Armstrong's plight, let's not forget about this fact: every one of those who now confessed passed hundreds of tests in their careers, just like Armstrong did. In fact, fallen stars like Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis also passed lots of tests before they got caught. In effect, dopers face a lottery with high odds of winning and low odds of losing.
Sadly, the media covering this issue continues to ignore false negative errors in testing. I have yet to find one article covering the current situation that acknowledges that dopers pass tests all the time! This over-confidence in scientific models is a disease, not just in drug testing.
In the book, I also discussed why we need a lie detector test in athletics. So, we arrive now at a day when a good handful of big-name cyclists decided to shed their lies and open up to us.
Another myth shattered by this scandal is the idea that stars don't need to cheat. It is most likely the opposite. At the very top of any sport, especially a sport that pays, the difference between the number 1 and the number 2 is vast in terms of financial reward but infinitestimal in terms of physics. Every little advantage counts. Placebos count.
It's hard to imagine why someone who has no chance of winning anything would take drugs that might kill them. So, when they say everyone was cheating, I wonder if they meant everyone who was competitive was cheating.
There are many stories because so many cyclists are named. Some are already selling their stories. Here are some links:
New York Times on the big report (link)
Tyler Hamilton already has a book (link)
George Hincapie testified (link)
Levi Leipheimer statement (link)
Glossary of secret codewords (link)
Former Irish massage therapist told her story (link)
Former coach continues to deny, deny (link)
Tour de France organizers silent. Imagine not having anything to say about a 7-time champion. (link)
Also silent are his sponsors. Nike? (link)