Pressure on Armstrong to respond to charges
CYCLING: ARMSTRONG REPORTThe fallout from the damning judgment continued to spread, amid suggestions civil action could be taken against the American, writes OWEN GIBSON
LANCE ARMSTRONG, the seven-time Tour de France winner whose reputation was shredded by a US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) report labelling him a bully and a “serial drug cheat”, was last night under increasing pressure to respond to damning charges that included claims he committed perjury and intimidated witnesses.
World cycling’s governing body, which is also under pressure to justify its role in the scandal, said it wanted to take time to study the 1,000-plus pages of the Usada judgment that concluded Armstrong was at the heart of the “most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.
The UCI has 21 days to decide whether to comply with Usada’s attempt to strip Armstrong of his titles or attempt to fight its jurisdiction over the case. The rider has denied cheating, but he did not fight the Usada charges when they were made public in August.
Armstrong could face charges of perjury after the report highlighted a 2005 court case in which he repeatedly denied doping or having any professional relationship with Michele Ferrari, the Italian doctor accused of overseeing the US Postal team doping ring, after 2004. “As demonstrated by the testimony of numerous witnesses in this case, each of the above statements made under oath and subject to the penalties of perjury were materially false and misleading when made,” said the Usada report.
The assertions were made after Armstrong went to arbitration to recover a €3.9 million bonus from a company called SCA Promotions, which was reluctant to pay out in the wake of his sixth Tour de France win amid increasing rumours of drug use.
Meanwhile, the ripple effects of the damning judgment continued to spread, amid suggestions that civil action could be taken against Armstrong in the US to recover sponsorship and prize money and new criminal cases were mooted against some of those implicated: – Michele Ferrari, the Italian known by the nickname “Schumi” to whom Armstrong, according to the report, paid more than $1m (€625,000) over a decade to mastermind US Postal’s training and doping programme, could face criminal charges in Italy.
– The International Olympic Commission is investigating the possibility of stripping Armstrong of his 2000 bronze medal from Sydney
– Nike, the US sportswear giant that backs Armstrong’s Livestrong brand through a sponsorship deal and a line of almost 100 branded goods, vowed to stand by him.
– Leading British cyclists condemned Armstrong, with Chris Hoy saying the revelations were “so depressing”, but others were more equivocal.
Usada announced in August it was stripping Armstrong of all his career titles including his Tour de France victories due to his central involvement in a large scale doping ring. “It was not enough that his team-mates give maximum effort on the bike, he also required that they adhere to the doping program outlined for them or be replaced,” said Usada in its reasoned decision published on Wednesday.