United States Postal Service Cyclist Describes Being Offered Steroids Prior to Lance Armstrong’s Arrival

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Scott Mercier was a professional cyclist for the United States Postal Service team prior to the arrival of future, seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. Mercier claims there was a culture of doping that was already firmly in place at U.S. Postal. His claim significantly weakens attempts by anti-doping organizations to use Armstrong as a scapegoat for the doping problem in pro cycling.

Mercier claimed to have been offered anabolic steroids by the U.S. Postal team doctor in 1997. Armstrong had yet to be signed to a contract by USPS. In fact, Armstrong was recovering from chemotherapy for advanced testicular cancer that had spread throughout his body including his brain. Most experts discounted any future for Armstrong in cycling. In other words, Armstrong had nothing to do with US Postal at that time.

According to Mercier, team doctor Pedro Celaya talked to each team rider individually presumably to provide a training program that included the use of steroids and erythropoietin (EPO) prior to the 1997 Tour of Romandie. Mercier made the revelation in a recent interview with CNN.

“This program was on a calendar. We were supposed to recover because it had been a hard season, but there was a two-week block, about 16 days, where on each day he had dots or stars,” Mercier said. “We were supposed to do 200 to 250 kilometers per day. I asked him, ‘what are these stars and dots for?’ He handed me a zip lock bag full of pills and vials. I asked him, ‘what do I have here?’ and he said, ‘these are steroids.’ He said, ‘you will go strong like bull.'”

Dr. Celaya received a lifetime ban from sports by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) this year as part of the investigation targeting Armstrong.

Professional cyclists typically used Andriol (testosterone undecanoate) as their preferred anabolic steroid during the late 1990s. Andriol was eventually replaced by faster-acting testosterone patches. Patches were applied for two hours at night to allow for the micro-dosing of steroids. This allowed athletes to avoid detection should they be tested by anti-doping officials.

Mercier’s information about the state of doping at U.S. Postal prior to the arrival of Armstrong is at odds with USADA’s characterization of Armstrong as the mastermind behind the USPS doping program.

Many people in the sport of cycling have used USADA’s “Reasoned Decision” in an attempt to scapegoat Armstrong for the sport’s doping problems. However, the use of EPO, anabolic steroids and blood doping were endemic to the sport well before Armstrong. Mercier’s account provides further witness to widespread doping throughout the history of cycling.

United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team

Source: (October 22, 2012). Mercier: ‘U.S. Postal doping predates Armstrong’. Retrieved from