The End of the Road; April 1995; Scientific American Magazine; by Derr; 2 Page(s)
Announcing his retirement from competitive bicycle racing last December, Greg LeMond brought to a close a career marked by sublime athletic achievement. He had won the Tour de France three times and the world championship twice; some of these victories came after his near death in a 1987 hunting accident. LeMond, at age 33, has now also entered medical record books, becoming the first elite athlete to be diagnosed with mitochondrial myopathy, a disorder that impairs muscle. He reported that, for mysterious reasons, his skeletal muscle cells could no longer use oxygen to produce the energy required for him to perform at peak capacity.
Greg is the first trained athlete to be diagnosed with this condition, says LeMond's physician, Rochelle Taube of the Minneapolis Sports Medicine Center. "Usually people with mitochondrial myopathy can barely move, or they are children who die of the disease." Taube emphasizes, however, that LeMond's myopathy should not prevent him from pursuing an active life.