This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) will release to the public its “reasoned decision” document today, detailing the evidence it has amassed against Lance Armstrong and his US Postal Service team associates who engaged in what USADA calls “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen”.
As a result, six of Armstrong’s former teammates have been suspended by the anti-doping agency. Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp), David Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp), Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), Michael Barry (Sky) and George Hincapie (BMC) have been given bans that may be backdated. If a suspension of six months is ratified then each rider could return to racing by the time of Paris-Nice, next Spring.
Both Hincapie and Barry announced they would retire this season.
George Hincapie and Christian Vandevelde
Armstrong‘s attorneys yesterday sent a letter to the agency railing against USADA’s action, stating that its evidence was manufactured based on the testimony of “serial perjurers” Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis.
But in a press release issued this morning, USADA states that its 1000 page dossier not only includes testimony from 26 individuals, including 15 riders “with knowledge of the US Postal Service Team (USPS Team) and its participants’ doping activities”, but also “direct documentary evidence including financial payments, emails, scientific data and laboratory test results that further prove the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong”.
After being accused by Armstrong’s attorneys of wasting taxpayer dollars on a “witch hunt”, USADA fired back stating its evidence “confirm[s] the disappointing truth about the deceptive activities of the USPS Team, a team that received tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars in funding.”
Armstrong was charged with anti-doping rule violations by USADA in June along with his then-US Postal Service team general manager Johan Bruyneel, his trainers Dr. Michele Ferrari and Pepe Marti, and team doctors Pedro Celaya and Luis del Moral of not only using performance-enhancing drugs such as EPO, growth hormone, testosterone and methods such as blood transfusions, but also providing these substances and methods to other members of the team.
Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton and USADA CEO Travis Tygart
Although some of the charges date back to the 1990s, USADA avoided the eight-year statute of limitations by proving that the conspiracy to cover up the doping activities ran into Armstrong’s comeback years. Armstrong’s attorneys vigorously objected to this, calling it an “unfair burden of having to defend against stale charges after memories have faded or been jaded and exculpatory evidence is lost”.
The taxpayers and cycling fans from around the world will later today be able to peruse the documents and decide for themselves. USADA states it will “reveal conclusive and undeniable proof that brings to the light of day for the first time this systemic, sustained and highly professionalized team-run doping conspiracy”. The documents will be available at www.usada.org.
USADA claims the evidence will demonstrate that the ‘code of silence’ regarding drug use in the sport “has been shattered” by these revelations, “but there is more to do”.
“From day one, we always hoped this investigation would bring to a close this troubling chapter in cycling’s history and we hope the sport will use this tragedy to prevent it from ever happening again.”
“Of course, no one wants to be chained to the past forever, and I would call on the UCI to act on its own recent suggestion for a meaningful Truth and Reconciliation program. While we appreciate the arguments that weigh in favor of and against such a program, we believe that allowing individuals like the riders mentioned today to come forward and acknowledge the truth about their past doping may be the only way to truly dismantle the remaining system that allowed this “EPO and Blood Doping Era” to flourish. Hopefully, the sport can unshackle itself from the past, and once and for all continue to move forward to a better future.”