Wednesday, April 16, 2014
By DAVID WHARTON AND LANCE PUGMIRE Los Angeles Times
Casting new shadows over one of sport's most iconic figures, anti-doping investigators Wednesday presented a battery of highly detailed allegations against Lance Armstrong, accusing the famed cyclist of running the most sophisticated doping scheme in sports history.
Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong grimaces during a news conference in this April 1, 2012, photo.
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The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency used testimony from 26 witnesses, including 11 former teammates of Armstrong's as the cornerstone for its report. One of them, George Hincapie, was with Armstrong through all seven of his Tour de France titles and his willingness to speak candidly was thought to pave the way for others to follow suit.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report is the most comprehensive look at Armstrong's alleged doping. It offers more than 200 pages of lab results, testimony from 11 former teammates and financial records showing $1 million in payments to a company controlled by an Italian doctor connected to performance-enhancing drugs.
The result is a portrayal of Armstrong as a world-class athlete who began using EPO and other banned substances as early as 1998, orchestrating clandestine deliveries along mountain roads and holding secret meetings in which he pressured fellow cyclists to join him in cheating for the betterment of the team.
Dogged by suspicions of doping for years, the seven-time Tour de France winner has consistently denied any wrongdoing, asserting that he has never failed a drug test. Now he faces a raft of more damning and specific allegations.
On Wednesday, his lawyer characterized the USADA report as nothing more than testimony from "ax-grinders" and "serial perjurers."
"Ignoring the 500-600 tests Lance Armstrong passed, ignoring all exculpatory evidence, and trying to justify the millions of dollars USADA has spent pursuing one, single athlete for years, USADA has continued its government-funded witch hunt," attorney Tim Herman said in a statement.
USADA first launched proceedings against Armstrong last summer. After failing to block the investigation in court, he announced that he was tired of fighting and chose not to contest the allegations in a scheduled USADA hearing.
The agency subsequently stripped him of his titles and banned him from competition for life. On Wednesday, officials released the evidence they had planned to present at the hearing, saying they wanted to be open about the reasons for the ban.
The allegations refer to Armstrong's years with the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel cycling teams. Whereas past claims originated with controversial riders such as Floyd Landis, this report included testimony from teammates such as close friend George Hincapie.
In discussing his earliest alleged doping, witnesses said that an individual known only as "Motoman" often delivered drugs to the team along mountain rides.
In another instance, Betsy Andreu, the wife of an Armstrong teammate, said Armstrong accepted a brown paper bag and commented to her, "Liquid gold."
Witnesses said Dr. Michele Ferrari orchestrated the doping schedules for the USPS and Discovery Channel teams from 1999 through 2005.
USADA investigators claim that accounting records for Ferrari's company in Switzerland show a history of large payments from Armstrong, totaling $475,000 in 2003 alone.
"Lance Armstrong surrounded himself with drug runners and doping doctors so that he could achieve his goal of winning the Tour de France year after year," the report stated.
Christian Vande Velde, a USPS team member, told investigators that during a 2002 meeting, Armstrong and Ferrari pressured him to step up his use of performance-enhancing drugs.
"Lance called the shots on the team," he said. "What Lance said, went."
After an Italian court convicted Ferrari of sporting fraud in 2004 for advising cyclists on the use of Andriol and EPO, Armstrong publicly vowed to cut all ties to the doctor.
But teammate Tom Danielson told USADA that he and Armstrong continued to work with Ferrari in the months before Armstrong won another Tour de France.
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