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Homer author Daniel Coyle probes Tour de France, Armstrong again

Alaska Dispatch

Sometimes Kenai Peninsula resident and author Daniel Coyle is out with another book on cycling, but don't expect this one to read like "Lance Armstrong's War -- One Man's Battle Against Fate, Fame, Love, Death, Scandal, and a Few Other Rivals on the Road to the Tour de France.'' That Coyle book portrayed the seven-time winner of the Tour de France as something of a tragic hero.

The new book due out on Sept. 18 -- Armstrong's birthday -- is expected to do largely the opposite. Written in cooperation with disgraced cyclist and one-time Armstrong teammate Tyler Hamilton, the book's title sort of says it all:  “The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France.''

Hamilton is a confessed doper who told "60 Minutes,'' the television news show, that he did drugs with Armstrong. Floyd Landis, another former teammate of Armstrong's later caught doping, has said the same thing about his years as a teammate of Armstrong's with the old U.S. Postal Team. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) claims it has a bunch of other former Postal riders on record saying the same things Hamilton and Landis have said, but it has refused to name those cyclists as yet. The USADA is pursuing Armstrong, aiming to adding him to the long list of Tour de France riders caught doping. Armstrong has gone to court to try to stop the USADA.

He says he's never failed a drug test, and that should be enough. The USADA argues it has a long list of witnesses claiming to have seen Armstrong dope, and that outweighs Armstrong’s success in passing drug tests. Several athletes, including Hamilton and Landis, claim to have beaten the tests many times.

Landis, in fact, claims he was only caught because a false positive in a drug test. That test eventually resulted in Landis's Tour victory being taken away, and he later confessed to using drugs to gain a performance advantage -- just not the drugs he was accused of using. Few top Tour riders have managed to go on forever beating the drug tests. Nearly all of the top competitors from Armstrong's days at the front of the peloton have been caught doping.

Coyle, a summer resident of Homer, back in 2005 defended Armstrong on National Public Radio after a French newspaper reported it had linked Armstrong to a doped urine sample from the 2005 Tour, although he admitted Armstrong had associated with some questionable characters in the past.

Coyle suggested then that Armstrong was being unfairly singled out, the same argument Armstrong is making now. Landis, on the other hand, has argued the only singling-out Armstrong got was protection from the interests that control professional cycling. Those interests tried to sue Landis for slander and are now trying to wrest the Armstrong case from the hands of the USADA, arguing that they should be the ones to investigate because they were the first to become aware of Landis's accusations against Armstrong.