Evidence proves damning for Armstrong
CYCLING/ANTI-DOPING REPORT:THE UNITED States Anti-Doping Agency yesterday released details of its investigation of Lance Armstrong, calling it the most sophisticated doping programme in recent sports history — a programme in which it said Armstrong played a key role by doping, supplying doping products and demanding that his top team-mates dope so he could be successful.
A 202-page account of the agency’s case against Armstrong included sworn testimony from 26 people, including 11 former team-mates on Armstrong’s United States Postal Service and Discovery Channel squads who said they saw Armstrong doping to help him win every one of his record seven Tour de France titles.
The file was the most extensive, groundbreaking layout of Armstrong’s alleged doping, bolstered by new interviews, financial statements and laboratory results.
The agency said that witnesses’ testimony was so damning that it did not need any corroborating evidence to make its case, though its report included financial payments, e-mail messages, laboratory results and scientific data that the agency said proved Armstrong cheated by using banned performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions.
“The U.S.P.S. Team doping conspiracy was professionally designed to groom and pressure athletes to use dangerous drugs, to evade detection, to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair competitive advantage through superior doping practices,” the agency said. “A program organised by individuals who thought they were above the rules and who still play a major and active role in sport today.”
Timothy J. Herman, one of Armstrong’s lawyers, said in an e-mail message that the 202-page report “will be a one-sided hatchet job – a taxpayer-funded tabloid piece rehashing old, disproved, unreliable allegations based largely on axe-grinders, serial perjurers, coerced testimony, sweetheart deals and threat-induced stories.”
The team-mates who came forward and submitted sworn affidavits included some of the best cyclists of Armstrong’s generation: Levi Leipheimer, Tyler Hamilton and George Hincapie, one of the most respected American riders in recent history.
Other team-mates who came forward with information were Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Floyd Landis, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie. Their testimony was the most widespread effort to break the code of silence about doping in cycling that has existed for decades.
The agency said the evidence revealed “conclusive and undeniable proof that brings to the light of day for the first time this systemic, sustained and highly professionalised team-run doping conspiracy”.
The financial payments, e-mails, scientific analyses and laboratory test results show Armstrong doped and was the kingpin of the doping conspiracy, the agency said. Several years of Armstrong’s blood values showed evidence of doping, it added.
“It’s shocking, it’s disappointing,” said Travis Tygart, chief executive of the anti-doping agency. “But we did our job.”
When Armstrong decided in August not to contest Usada’s charges, he agreed to forgo an arbitration hearing at which the evidence against him would have been aired, possibly publicly.
Under the World Anti-Doping Code, the anti-doping agency was required to submit its evidence against Armstrong to the International Cycling Union, which has 21 days from the receipt of the case file to appeal the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Once it makes its decision, the World Anti-Doping Agency will then have 21 days in which to appeal. The cycling union and WADA were expected to receive the Armstrong file yesterday.
The antidoping agency has been gathering evidence on Armstrong for the past several years, with its efforts increasing after Landis, the 2006 Tour winner who was stripped of the title for doping, contacted Tygart in 2010. Landis told Tygart that he, Armstrong and others on the Postal Service team were involved in systematic doping supported by the team.
In a statement by his lawyer yesterday, Hincapie, the only rider who was at Armstrong’s side for his seven Tour victories, acknowledged doping and apologised to his family, team-mates and fans.
“Early in my professional career, it became clear to me that, given the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete at the highest level without them,” said Hincapie, who retired from cycling this year after riding in a record 17th Tour. “I deeply regret that choice.”
Hincapie, the five-time Olympian and three-time national road race champion, said he had been approached by federal investigators in the spring of 2010 and they asked him to divulge his experience with doping. That summer, he sat down with them and admitted he had cheated with drugs — but also reluctantly spoke about the other cyclists involved in doping because he felt “obligated to tell the truth about everything he knew,” he said.
New York Times Service