Reading the daily updates about the Lance Armstrong bicycle team doping scandal is like watching a train crash. It gets worse and worse and there is no turning back for America's sport hero, Lance. I read his book "It's All About the Bike" and even wrote a book review on it, praising his true grit story and come-back from being on death's door from testicular cancer. Lance Armstrong, the boy next store with his good looks, amazing athleticism and cancer charity (Livestrong) has fallen off his pedestal.
The reports that are now being disclosed by his bike team aide, Emma O'Reilly show that Lance and his team ingested and injected a boatload of illegal substances to improve performance over their entire successful careers. The one that caught my eye was injectible testosterone, a performance enhancing drug when used in high quantity. I thought back to his diagnosis of testicular cancer and the rapid spread of the disease before he was even diagnosed.
Testicular cancer is highly curable when caught before it spreads. There are different types of testicular cancer but the most common originates in the germ cell, which are the cells of the testicle or gonads. These are the cells that produce sperm and are also triggered by the male hormone testosterone.
Could the testosterone he injected along with other performance enhancing drugs have contributed to his cancer? I've not seen this analyzed yet in the medical literature but it should be an obvious question.
There are no easy answers to this because testicular cancer is a rare disease of young men between the ages of 20-39 years. Young men do not ordinarily encounter exogenous testosterone (translated: young men do not get testosterone from outside their own body production). But Lance Armstrong used large quantities of testosterone to boost performance. Since testosterone has its effect on these very cells that turned into malignancy, the question must be asked.
Mr. Armstrong continues to deny his involvement in doping but he has accepted the life-long ban from biking and the stripping of his tour de france titles. We all love heroes and watching them fall is both sad and disappointing.