News24

Team-mates turn on Armstrong

2012-10-11 09:08

New York - Lance Armstrong said he wanted to see the names of his accusers. The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) gave him 26, including 11 former team-mates.

GALLERY: Lance Armstrong highs and lows

The world's most famous cyclist said he wanted to see the hard evidence that he was a doper. The agency gave him that, too: About 200 pages filled with vivid details - from the hotel rooms that riders transformed into makeshift blood-transfusion centres to the way Armstrong's former wife rolled cortisone pills into foil and handed them out to all the cyclists.

In all, a USADA report released on Wednesday gives the most detailed, unflinching portrayal yet of Armstrong as a man who, day after day, week after week, year after year, spared no expense - financially, emotionally or physically - to win the seven Tour de France titles that the anti-doping agency has ordered taken away.

It presents as matter-of-fact reality that winning and doping went hand-in-hand in cycling and that Armstrong was the focal point of a big operation, running teams that were the best at getting it done without getting caught. Armstrong won the Tour as leader of the US Postal Service team from 1999-2004 and again in 2005 with the Discovery Channel as the primary sponsor.

USADA said the path Armstrong chose to pursue his goals "ran far outside the rules."

It accuses him of depending on performance-enhancing drugs to fuel his victories and "more ruthlessly, to expect and to require that his team-mates" do the same. Among the 11 former team-mates who testified against Armstrong are George Hincapie, Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis.

USADA Chief Executive Travis Tygart said the cyclists were part of "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."

Armstrong did not fight the USADA charges, but insists he never cheated.

His attorney, Tim Herman, called the report "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."

Aware of the criticism his agency has faced from Armstrong and his legion of followers, Tygart insisted his group handled this case under the same rules as any other. Armstrong was given the chance to take his case to arbitration and declined, choosing in August to accept the sanctions instead, he noted.

"We focused solely on finding the truth without being influenced by celebrity or non-celebrity, threats, personal attacks or political pressure because that is what clean athletes deserve and demand," Tygart said.

The report called the evidence "as strong or stronger than any case brought in USADA's 12 years of existence."

In a letter sent to USADA attorneys on Tuesday, Herman dismissed any evidence provided by Landis and Hamilton, saying the riders are "serial perjurers and have told diametrically contradictory stories under oath."

The testimony of Hincapie, one of Armstrong's closest and most loyal team-mates through the years, was one of the report's new revelations.

"I would have been much more comfortable talking only about myself, but understood that I was obligated to tell the truth about everything I knew. So that is what I did," Hincapie said of his testimony to federal investigators and USADA.

His two-page statement did not mention Armstrong by name. Neither did statements from three other team-mates-turned-witnesses, all of whom said this was a difficult-but-necessary process.

"I have failed and I have succeeded in one of the most humbling sports in the world," Christian Vande Velde said. "And today is the most humbling moment of my life."

Tygart said evidence from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the US Postal Service team's doping activities, provided material for the report. The agency also interviewed Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie. Andreu's wife, Betsy, was another key witness. She has been one of Armstrong's most consistent and unapologetic critics.

"It took tremendous courage for the riders on the USPS Team and others to come forward and speak truthfully," Tygart said.

In some ways, the USADA report simply pulls together and amplifies allegations that have followed Armstrong ever since he beat cancer and won the Tour for the first time. At various times and in different forums, Landis, Hamilton and others have said that Armstrong encouraged doping on his team and used banned substances himself.

Written in a more conversational style than a typical legal document, the report lays out in chronological order, starting in 1998 and running through 2009:

- Multiple examples of Armstrong using multiple drugs, including the blood-boosting hormone EPO, citing the "clear finding" of EPO in six blood samples from the 1999 Tour de France that were retested. UCI concluded those samples were mishandled and couldn't be used to prove anything. In bringing up the samples, USADA said it considers them corroborating evidence that isn't even necessary given the testimony of its witnesses.

- Testimony from Hamilton, Landis and Hincapie, all of whom say they received EPO from Armstrong.

- Evidence of the pressure Armstrong put on the riders to go along with the doping programme.

"The conversation left me with no question that I was in the doghouse and that the only way forward with Armstrong's team was to get fully on Dr Ferrari's doping programme," Vande Velde testified.

- What Vaughters called "an outstanding early warning system regarding drug tests." One example came in 2000, when Hincapie found out there were drug testers at the hotel where Armstrong's team was staying. Aware Armstrong had taken testosterone before the race, Hincapie alerted him and Armstrong dropped out of the race to avoid being tested, the report said.

Though she didn't testify, Armstrong's ex-wife, Kristin, is mentioned 30 times in the report.

In one episode, Armstrong allegedly asks her to wrap banned cortisone pills in foil to hand out to his team-mates.

"Kristin obliged Armstrong's request by wrapping the pills and handing them to the riders. One of the riders remarked, 'Lance's wife is rolling joints,'" the report read. Attempts to reach Kristin Armstrong were unsuccessful.

While the arguments about Armstrong will continue among sports fans - and there is still a question of whether USADA or the International Cycling Union (UCI) has the ultimate authority to take away his Tour titles - the new report puts a cap on a long round of official investigations. Armstrong was cleared of criminal charges in February after a federal grand jury probe that lasted about two years.

USADA sought evidence from federal investigators, but in its report, the agency said none was ever turned over to its offices, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

UCI confirmed receiving the report and said it would respond to it soon, "not to delay matters any longer than necessary." It has 21 days to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The UCI

The head of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Doug Ulman, lauded Armstrong's work as a cancer fighter. Armstrong won all his titles after overcoming testicular cancer.

"Our longstanding concerns about the impartiality and fairness of USADA's proceeding are compounded today," Ulman said. "As a federal judge pointed out, USADA appears motivated more by publicity rather than fulfilling its mission."

Some of the newest information - never spelled out in detail before Wednesday - includes a depiction of Armstrong's continuing relationship with physician and training guru Michele Ferrari. Like Armstrong, Ferrari has received a lifetime ban from USADA.

Long thought of as the mastermind of Armstrong's alleged doping plan, Ferrari was investigated in Italy and Armstrong claimed he had cut ties with the doctor after a 2004 conviction. The conviction was later overturned but was nonetheless the reason Armstrong cut ties with him. USADA cites financial records that show payments of at least $210 000 in the two years after that. It also cited emails from 2009 showing Armstrong asking Ferrari's son if he could make a $25 000 cash payment the next time they saw each other.

"The repeated efforts by Armstrong and his representatives to mischaracterise and minimise Armstrong's relationship with Ferrari are indicative of the true nature of that relationship," the report states. "If there is not something to hide, there is no need to hide it and certainly no need to repeatedly lie about it."

In addition to Armstrong and Ferrari, another player in the Postal team circle, Dr Luis Garcia del Moral, also received a lifetime ban as part of the case.

Three other members of the USPS team will take their cases to arbitration. They are team director Johan Bruyneel, team doctor Pedro Celaya and team trainer Jose "Pepe" Marti.

Armstrong chose not to pursue the case and instead accepted the sanction, though he has consistently argued that the USADA system was rigged against him, calling the agency's effort a "witch hunt" that used special rules it doesn't follow in all its other cases.

Sworn affidavits from Hincapie and several others, included in the agency's report, were dated after August 23, when Armstrong announced he would not fight the charges. The affidavits were dated as such because lawyers originally thought those witnesses would present their testimony live at an arbitration hearing.

The report also went to the World Anti-Doping Agency, which also has the right to appeal, but so far has supported USADA's position in the Armstrong case.

"We would like to commend USADA for having the courage and the resolve to keep focused in working on this difficult case for the sake of clean athletes and the integrity of sport," WADA president John Fahey said.

ASO, the company that runs the Tour de France and could have a say in where Armstrong's titles eventually go, said it has "no particular comment to make on this subject."

What former team-mates of Lance Armstrong told the US Anti-Doping Agency during their investigation into doping in cycling:

FRANKIE ANDREAU
Armstrong team-mate for parts of nine seasons (1992-1996, 1998-2002). Retired from cycling in 2000. Admitted doping. Said he over overheard Armstrong in 1996 acknowledge use of EPO, testosterone, human growth hormone, steroids and cortisone.

MICHAEL BARRY
Armstrong team-mate for four seasons (2002 - 2005). Said U.S. Postal team doctors and staff gave him banned drugs.

TOM DANIELSON
A team-mate of Armstrong for one season (2005). Admitted doping. Said team supplied him with drugs, including EPO.

TYLER HAMILTON
Armstrong team mate for four seasons (1998-2001) and winner of 2004 Olympic gold medal of which he was later stripped. Admitted doping. Said he saw Armstrong take EPO and testosterone during 1999 Tour de France and testosterone in 2000. Said he received blood transfusions with Armstrong during 2000 Tour de France and Armstrong gave him EPO in 1999 and 2001.

GEORGE HINCAPIE
Armstrong team-mate for 11 seasons (1994-1996, 1998-2005) and only cyclist to ride with Armstrong in all seven Tour de France victories. Admitted doping. Said he was on blood doping program from 2001-2005 and knew Armstrong was as well. Said he was aware Armstrong was using EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions. Once alerted Armstrong to presence of drug testers before a race in Spain; Armstrong dropped out of race.

FLOYD LANDIS
Armstrong team-mate for three seasons (2002-2004). Won Tour de France in 2006, but lost title after testing positive for testosterone. Admitted doping. Said he received testosterone from Armstrong in 2002, EPO from him in 2002 and 2003 and saw Armstrong use EPO in 2004. Said he received blood transfusions with Armstrong at 2002 and 2003 Tours de France.

LEVI LEIPHEIMER
Team-mate of Armstrong for five seasons (2001-2002, 2009-2011). Admitted doping. Said Armstrong told him in 2009 he was using middle man to continue to work with team consultant Dr. Michele Ferrari.

CHRISTIAN VANDE VELDE
Armstrong team mate for five seasons (1998-2003). Admitted doping. Said he was told by Armstrong his standing with team depended on following team doping program. Said saw Armstrong's wife, Kristen, give cortisone pills to riders at 1998 World Championships.

JONATHAN VAUGHTERS
Team-mate of Armstrong for two seasons (1998-1999). Said he saw Armstrong inject EPO in 1998.

DAVID ZABRISKIE
Armstrong team mate for four seasons (2001-2004). Said US Postal Service team director Johan Bruyneel and team doctor Luis Garcia del Moral introduced him to doping.

HAVE YOUR SAY: The doping evidence against Lance Armstrong is damning. In your opinion is the seven-time Tour de France champion innocent or guilty? Send your thoughts to Sport24.

AP

Comments
  • Bigsexy.jm - 2012-10-11 09:21

    Then why wasn't he tested positive? All this is hearsay and circumstancial at best. #livestrong

      sean.bagley.50 - 2012-10-11 09:46

      Unfortunately it's not looking good for Armstrong.A team mate of his over a very long period of time has now written a book detailing the everyday goings on about how Armstrong had transfused his own blood using different machines and different circulation techniques and stuff so as to not get caught out.It was the norm at the time to do so,but he got lucky not being found out at the time.

      duanne.dames - 2012-10-11 10:34

      It was impossible to test for EPO until recently (last few years). They claim to have urine samples from his early victories still in storage, and that those test positive now. Also, other drugs can be used to mask doping.

      hallo.daar.56 - 2012-10-11 10:39

      #livewrong #drugcheat

  • chez.kri - 2012-10-11 09:22

    Guilty guilty guilty! Your arrogance and rudeness to others came back and bit you on yoru doped and needle-pricked behind!

      Bigsexy.jm - 2012-10-11 09:29

      Arrogance and rudeness to all those Cancer survivors he helped? Oof your argument died a bit on you there hey?

      chez.kri - 2012-10-11 09:55

      @BigSexy. No my argument didn't die on me. The facts are that he has earned many many millions and actually does not give a whole lot of it to his charity, he gets others to donate. And anyway, the cancer he had has nothing to do with the doping he did. Two different issues. perhaps you should read up a bit more about this man you so blindly follow!! Just because he survived cancer does not amke him Jesus. Get your head out yoru butt and do some research

      classwar.trotsky - 2012-10-11 10:00

      So because he promoted cancer research (and by default himself) that would excuse him from being a cheating lying drug pusher?

      Bigsexy.jm - 2012-10-11 10:12

      Prove it.

      chez.kri - 2012-10-11 10:15

      @classwar. Exactly right! He headed the team and used that power on his teammates. It was common knowledge that to ride with him menat win at all costs; and boy you'd better do what he says!

      classwar.trotsky - 2012-10-11 15:09

      The only time he deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as cancer would be something like.... 'Lance Armstrong, representative of the cancer of doping in sport....'

  • napolita.kio - 2012-10-11 09:25

    Yawn....

  • fanie.viljoen.73 - 2012-10-11 09:27

    Still, what about ALL the other riders in the other teams? I reckon the banning of performance enhancement substances only makes it more desirable and more dangerous. If they would legalize certain "safe to use" substances, it will be safe and cheaper and available to all, thus making it less profitable for Lance's mates to sell on the black market. PS: at this level using roids is your own CHOICE! don't blame Lance, the cycling world is full of anabolic's.

  • Jacques - 2012-10-11 09:38

    What a mess...

  • hugh.olphart - 2012-10-11 09:43

    Seriously, all the teams used the same drugs. Why compete on an unfair footing? He still won 7 titles against opposition teams on the same drugs. Sad to see the dogs biting the hands that feed them.

  • andre.schutte.319 - 2012-10-11 09:47

    If I had to play second fiddle to a guy who got all the fame a glory, I would also build up a grudge and think that one day I will get you and the team. This is that day. Shame. Envy can be such a bad thing.

  • laurence.bekink.3 - 2012-10-11 09:49

    The oke was a cheat. Always was and always will be. Cancer or no cancer, this is not a sympathy race. Only thing to say n his defence is that it's not like his opposition weren't doing it. It’s just they didn't have the arrogance or the smarts to keep denying it and getting away with it. Anyone who really knows cycling knows he doped, and this has nothing to do with neither his battle with cancer nor the amazing work he does now. He should just fess up and put it behind him.

      chez.kri - 2012-10-11 10:12

      @Moses. Exactly. There are people who directly saw him him doping. If you know anyone in that circle - and some of those he worked with are in South Africa - you know he doped. He locked himself in his trailer after a race stage and only came out with his urine sample after 20 minutes. There is lots of evidence of stuff like that. He is a mean man who treated other riders like scum, and this was their time to stop him; and stop him they have!

  • sanda.mnyazi - 2012-10-11 09:50

    So he was found guilty purely on the testimony of these other athletes?

  • ltjvrensburg - 2012-10-11 10:00

    It's sad to see it, the doctors and team managers I think should also be nailed for this as they are also part of this. The scary thing is that this thorough investigation reveals the true reality, that a lot of guys out there cheat and get away with it and lets not even go to bodybuilding, athletics, rugby, american football, baseball just to mention a few. It's just who's doctor and manager is the best to give them blockers or manage they're programs as to take it in the right dosages and intervals as to not be traced. Rugby ones was a beautiful game when it was played by players with skill, nowadays it's mostly about strength, who trains the hardest in the gym etc. Everyone is forced to use it otherwise you'll be left behind. It is seen with schoolboys now having to take it to accomplish they're dreams. This however is not true of everybody.

  • rohin.jadin - 2012-10-11 10:01

    I wonder what the deal is for all these other cyclists that are testifying against Armstrong. It doesn't make sense to me why all these years Armstrong never had a positive test (including B Samples). He's the most tested athlete ever. Unless he had many palms greased, that or there's many jealous people that refuse to believe he is that good. Also the idea that someone will go through a blood transfusion to hide doping evidence - wow. That doesn't explain how they can pass being tested before / after a race - cause how is the doping helping them if it's out of their system? confused.

      endof.faith - 2012-10-11 10:33

      Rohin, read Tyler Hamiltons Book "The Secret Race" - all details revealed including how they mask the doping effects to evade being tested positive. A little known fact also revealed in the book is that Armstrong also failed a drugs test in Switzerland and "made it go away" because of his influence in the sport. The point of doping is to get as close to the limit as possible (fly just under the radar if you will). In the book they go into detail about the hemocrit levels (max allowed is 50) and all the pro's hover at 47-49 whilst non dopers are significantly less (in the low 30's). After the hemocrit test got more stringent they switched to transfusions in which they used to withdraw 1 or more bags of blood out of themselves a few weeks before a race and then put them back in during a race. This results in a higher red blood cell count giving them more endurance and power. One example that Hamilton gives in the book to prove the effects of doping is that one stage of the TDF in 2011 was identical to the one in 2001 (when Armstrong was racing). The WINNING time from 2011 would have only finished in 40th place in the 2001 stage!! I guess that says that cycling is getting cleaner, but it is still a long way from being dope-free.

      rohin.jadin - 2012-10-11 10:48

      thanks endof.faith - gonna go look for it - (preferably in ebook)

  • apagewood - 2012-10-11 10:37

    I see two Tour de France's coming - one where it's clean and the other where riders can take what the hell they like...crazy world!

  • Arthur Hewitt - 2012-10-11 11:15

    Yes unfortunately, the cookie has to crumble sometime. Money can buy you drugs and the latest in technology (cycles) but it cannot pay to keep mouths shut as the price of lying keeps on rising.....fortunately! Just sorry they dont make it open field in all sports. No justice in this world.

  • craig.moir.14 - 2012-10-11 13:30

    Everyone knows that all top pro cyclists on the European circuit dope. This is a witch hunt against Armstrong. If you strip him of all his titles then who you gonna give them to? The guy who came second! Please, he also doped and if the conduct an investigation into the second place guy they will find he is guilty as well. So who do they give the titles to? The third place guy, and if they conduct an investigation........... and so on and so on. We all know Lance doped, we all know they all dope. He never tested positive so all evidence against him is hearsay. Where is the scientific evidence that what he injected into his system was not just a plain old saline drip? There is none 'cos he tested negative. Let the past be the past and focus effort on cleaning up the sport, not a vindictive witch hunt to discredit the greatest cyclist of all times.

  • selma.botha.9 - 2012-10-11 14:55

    Now what.....does he return the prize money....is there to be a victory parade for the runners-up. It is just too awful to be true.

  • hendrik.schutte.3152 - 2012-10-11 17:58

    I think "doping" and such illegal actions is & has always been part of cycling, Nothing new in that. But this "holier than though" arrogant %^&* Lance is absolutely the pits. I hope this will now eventually sink him so deep and solidly that I never have to see or hear anything about him again. An absolute disgrace is about the only polite way I can describe him.

  • Simon Chabuka - 2012-10-13 18:22

    i feel sorry for armstrong but i don't think its possible for all his teammates to lie and jus coz everyone is doing it doesnt make it right its like saying if taxi drivers can break the law so can i

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