News24

The man who sunk Armstrong

2012-10-22 14:43

Washington - Travis T. Tygart has never won Olympic gold or the Tour de France, but in 10 years with the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), he has done his best to ensure no dope cheats win them either.

Not even Lance Armstrong.

Despite three death threats and Armstrong's accusations of a witch hunt, Tygart guided a staff that compiled 1 000 pages of evidence and testimony from 26 witnesses, 11 of them former team-mates, to bring down the cycling icon.

"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.

Tygart directed USADA legal affairs and served as general counsel before taking over as USADA's chief executive officer five years ago, having helped reveal dope cheats from the BALCO steroid scandal as well as Armstrong.

The 41-year-old father-of-three, who has a philosophy degree from the University of North Carolina and Southern Methodist University law degree, played on Florida state high school champions in basketball and baseball, where he was a teammate of Major League Baseball standout Chipper Jones of Atlanta.

"The lessons of sport and what I learned growing up in Jacksonville, those are the things that get you through tough times like this," Tygart told his hometown newspaper, the Florida Times-Union.

"What I learned from BALCO is athletes and their enablers will go to great lengths to ensure they're not ultimately held accountable."

Tygart spent years on the front lines of USADA's arbitration appeal system, a method that withstood a US federal court challenge from Armstrong as well as threats from some US lawmakers with an eye toward USADA taxpayer funding.

"Clean athletes appreciate us not bowing to political pressure or the personal attacks. If we're going to cave to attacks by those attempting to cover up their sporting fraud, we might as well shut down," Tygart told the newspaper.

"That would mean we're afraid and don't have the courage to support clean athletes. You have to endure those attacks. We just do our job based on the evidence we have."

Armstrong decided in August not to challenge USADA's charges against him, denying any wrongdoing, so USADA imposed a life ban and stripped him of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles from 1999-2005.

USADA went public with its evidence earlier this month as it submitted a report to the International Cycling Union (UCI). Since then sponsors have fled Armstrong, who stepped down as chairman of the Livestrong anti-cancer charity.

"He cannot right the wrongs he committed," said a column in Armstrong's hometown newspaper, the American-Statesman of Austin, Texas.

"Nor can he undo or take back the hateful, venomous things he said about anyone who had the gall to speak out against him. But he can just do it now, atone for his arrogance and say he's sorry."

Armstrong is far from the first US sports star to be undone by USADA.

Floyd Landis, the 2006 Tour de France winner, and Olympic champions Marion Jones and Justin Gatlin were among those stripped of their titles as a result of USADA investigations under Tygart's direction.

Jones admitted wrongdoing despite never testing positive, a situation that hit at the heart of the viability of doping tests as the only manner to catch cheaters even as Armstrong noted his own lack of a positive doping test.

Tygart recalled to the Times-Union how Landis told him after being greeted by a supporter that he could not live with the lie of being a fraud, eventually confessing his doping but only after years of denial.

"That's what you hear from athletes," Tygart said. "A lot of them never wanted to cheat, but they're put in a culture where they feel it's the only way they can win.

"All that matters here is the truth prevailed. For clean athletes that's the right outcome. It's sad it came to this, but it's good that it was revealed."

Tygart added that he would advise Armstrong to apologise to those he hurt, saying, "That could be a much better legacy for the sport than anything any of these riders ever did on a bike."

AFP

Comments
  • rinus.groeneveld.7 - 2012-10-22 15:25

    Tygart, please go and ride ONE stage of the TDF - and you can use ANY "dope" you can lay your hands on, as much as you like and as frequently as possible ...... and you still will not make it.....

      piet.strydom - 2012-10-22 16:17

      En jou punt is?

      chez.kri - 2012-10-22 16:17

      @Rinus. What the hell does that have to do with anything? Tygart has never said he is a better rider than LA.

      george.frangs - 2012-10-23 13:27

      Really Rinus?? So what you're saying is, is that it's okay to use steroids? You're being 'n lekker ou tjoppie... These guys train for YEARS! And then they go race. So by your logic, I'll do some steroids the night before the Comrades, and I'll win a medal. Jy's 'n genius Pappa...

  • deon.louw.7505 - 2012-10-22 15:36

    I like his philosophy: "No cheats allowed". Another person doing something different than they studied.

  • richard.hipkin - 2012-10-22 15:45

    Look, Armstrong doped, but so did everyone else - and he still beat them!

      chez.kri - 2012-10-22 16:19

      @PointBlank. Its not that simple. Different people react differently to certain drugs but its still not even THAT simple. Read up a bit more about it. He was a trafficer of the drugs, he got others to traffic too. just read more, and then comment.

  • donovan.reidthomson - 2012-10-22 16:02

    If the USADA is so big on catching cheats how are the USA Mr. Olympia Champions (Body Builders) getting away with it? Armstrong used and got away with it, just like Arnie!!

  • peter.gugelmin - 2012-10-22 16:51

    Mr Tygart is not as clean as everyone thinks. All riders testifying against Armstrong were promised immunity. Well a number of them got 6 months suspensions and due to that fact a number of them got sacked from their teams. Again no positive tests even though USADA claims they have them.

  • paul.rebel1 - 2012-10-22 21:22

    MR TTT. what's your point? You go after Lance but let all the others get off scot free because they have something to sya about Lance, but where is hte positive test? If you ban one for life, ban all for life. Landis, etc and especially Contador. In fact why don't you investigate Eddie Merckx while you at it?

      russell.thompson.1257 - 2012-10-22 22:02

      Not just Eddie Mercx but Indurain and every rider who has ever taken part in professional cycling. And before Armstrongs TDF titles are given to the second place men they must also be investigated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • lance.frigard - 2012-10-23 03:10

    I was told by a champion athlete that drugs never made a champion. If you took the ten best athletes in the world and took away all the drugs you would still have the same ten people. I am sure the public is tired of those who have nothing better to do than point the finger at someone but aren't those the same people who don't have a chance at competing with any athlete. Good luck to those who think that they can achieve what Lance Armstrong has. He is one of the greatest athletes of all time.

      lois.lloyd.1238 - 2012-10-23 08:26

      Even though he has stolen the title for some years from other cyclists and denied others the chance to win?

      russell.thompson.1257 - 2012-10-23 10:12

      Lois, he has not denied others the chanch to win as the "others" were also on drugs, they just haven't been investigated yet.

  • JoffeyCampino - 2012-10-23 09:01

    "The search for performance enhancement takes many forms in scientific athletic training: Periodized exercise schedules, stretches, massage, altitude chambers, diet, and dietary supplements. It is a fine line between banned substances and dietary supplement. I agree that if a substance is banned, then to use it is by definition cheating. My point is that perhaps for professional athletes we should consider legalizing all performance enhancing substances as long as they are used by consenting, fully informed adults." - David Hamel

  • kevin.moxham.3 - 2012-10-23 09:37

    Why did you stop with LA - why not target the other winners who also tested negative but are now according to you could be actually positive - i think this was a whict hunt and you Mr Travis T Tygart is a celeberity status seeking individual - prove me wrong...!

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