Lance Armstrong and his team ran the most sophisticated doping program in sport according to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USDA) which released its report on the case against the US Postal cycling team on Wednesday.
USADA said it was sending the report, which was more than 1,000 pages long and contained the sworn testimony of 26 people, including 15 riders, to the International Cycling Union (UCI), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), before making it available on its website.
“The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen,” USADA said in a statement from chief executive Travis Tygart.
“The evidence also includes 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 and confirm 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 has denied cheating and never failed a doping test but the seven-times Tour de France winner was banned for life by USADA in August after announcing he would not fight the charges.
Armstrong’s lawyers have repeatedly attacked the credibility of USADA’s case, describing the proceedings as a “kangaroo court” and a “witch hunt” on the eve of Wednesday’s release.
“USADA has continued its efforts to coerce and manufacture evidence from other riders through threats and sweetheart deals and generated self-serving media coverage through leaks and piecemeal release of tired, disproven allegations,” Armstrong’s attorney, Timothy J. Herman, wrote in a letter to USADA.
“This reasoned decision will be a farce… while USADA can put lipstick on a pig, it still remains a pig.”
USADA said the case against Armstrong and his team included eyewitness, documentary, first-hand, scientific, direct and circumstantial evidence and testimony from 11 former team mates.
Several former team mates have already spoken out publicly against Armstrong but USADA named all 11 for the first time on Wednesday.
“The evidence demonstrates that the ‘Code of Silence’ of performance enhancing drug use in the sport of cycling has been shattered, but there is more to do,” USADA said.
“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,” it added.
USADA identified the 11 team mates as: Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.
“It took tremendous courage for the riders on the USPS Team and others to come forward and speak truthfully. It is not easy to admit your mistakes and accept your punishment,” USADA said.
“But that is what these riders have done for the good of the sport, and for the young riders who hope to one day reach their dreams without using dangerous drugs or methods.”
The UCI had been heavily critical of the American anti-doping body for not releasing its findings sooner.
The UCI can appeal the decision to ban Armstrong for life, even though the American decided not to fight the case, but the sport’s world governing body had not yet responded shortly after the USADA report was released.
By Julian Linden
NEW YORK (Reuters) – (Additional reporting by Gene Cherry; Editing by Ken Ferris)