Coyle published ?Improved muscular efficiency displayed as Tour de France champion matures? in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 2005 (98:2191-2196). What a load of unscientific poppycock. Ashenden is much cleverer than me and is correct to question Coyle?s findings. But there is more basic information in Coyle?s paper which is also fundamentally flawed. In Table 2, Coyle compares Armstrong?s vitals and performance preseason in November 1992, January 1993, and November 1999. For these three time periods, his body weight was 78.9 kg, 76.5 kg and 79.7 kg (note, no 10 kg loss in body weight after cancer treatment) and his lean body weight was 70.5 kg, 69.8 kg and 71.6 kg. Aerobically, his maximal oxygen uptake was 5.56 l/min, 5/82 l/min and 5.7 l/min, and maximal blood lactate was 7.5 mM, 6.3 mM and not measured in 1999. Finally, his power output at oxygen uptake of 5.0 L/min was 374W, 382W and 404W. Looking at these figures you would say, ?Where is the big difference before and after cancer?? Well, there is none. So how did Coyle achieve his remarkable claim that Armstrong?s power-to-body weight ratio improved 18% from 1992 to 1999? He fudged the figures ? instead of using his actual body weight in 1999 (79.7 kg) he used his estimated racing body weight of 72 kg. He compared apples to oranges by comparing actual 1992 preseason results to estimated 1999 racing results. If Coyle had actually compared apples to apples and used actual and measured data presented in Table 2, then Armstrong?s actual power-to-weight ratios would be 4.74, 4.99 and 5.07 for each of those time periods, representing a paltry 7.0% and 1.6% improvement compared to his 1992 and 1993 preseason results. So, not only are Coyle?s findings wrong, but everything that is purported to explain Armstrong?s post-cancer treatment improvement is also wrong ? his body weight has not changed, his percentage fat has not changed, his lactate threshold has not changed, and his power output (raw or to-weight ratio) has hardly changed. Furthermore, as Ashenden, BroDeal and others have already pointed out (dare I say it, LeMond among them), Armstrong?s power output, power-to-weight ratio, lactate threshold and VO2 max are not different to most pro cyclists and definitely not in the realm of most Grand Tour winners. Speculate as you may about whether or not he doped, but the facts do not lie.
As a side issue, Armstrong has often stated he is the most tested athlete (at least cyclist) on earth as a defense against his doping. However, doping and getting caught are two very different things. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) stimulates testosterone and epitestosterone production (and hence is a banned substance), but is also a marker for testicular cancer. Armstrong boasted his hCG levels at the time of his diagnosis were > 100, more than 20 times the normal reference range. Yet, for the most tested cyclist on earth, the UCI never reported his cancer-induced elevated hCG levels (despite frequent tests being performed around this time). The UCI failed not only on a drug testing level, but also failed to adequately protect Armstrong and his health. Since then, at least two athletes have had their testicular cancer diagnosed early through UCI tests reporting elevated hCG levels and, because of earlier detection, they were treated successfully.