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11 teammates testified in case against Armstrong
On Wednesday, it did.
The anti-doping body revealed a group of 11 former Armstrong teammates — some loyal, some estranged — who each provided evidence of drug use on the U.S. Postal Service team. USADA Chief Executive Travis Tygart called it “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
USADA will deliver its reasoned decision against Armstrong later Wednesday, a summary of the facts it used to hand him a lifetime suspension and erase his titles. The organization has banned the seven-time Tour de France winner from competition for life and declared his victories null and void.
In a news release previewing the decision, Tygart said it would include more than 1,000 pages of evidence. He listed 11 of Armstrong’s former teammates, including George Hincapie, Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, as among those providing evidence that led to the sanction.
Tygart said the evidence shows the code of silence that dominated cycling has been shattered.
“It took tremendous courage for the riders on the USPS Team and others to come forward and speak truthfully,” he said. “It is not easy to admit your mistakes and accept your punishment. But that is what these riders have done for the good of the sport.”
Armstrong’s 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 it has faced from Armstrong and his legion of followers, Tygart insisted USADA handled this case under the same rules as any other. He pointed out that Armstrong was given the chance to take his case to arbitration and he declined, choosing to accept the sanctions instead.
“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 USADA report was widely expected to pull together and amplify 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.
While the arguments about Armstrong will continue among sports fans — and there is still a question of whether USADA or UCI has ultimate control of taking away his Tour titles — the new report puts a cap on the official investigations. Armstrong was cleared of criminal charges in February after a federal grand jury probe that lasted about two years.
Tygart said evidence from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the U.S. Postal Service Team’s doping activities, provided material for the report. It was with the USPS team that Armstrong won all but one of his Tour titles from 1999 to 2005.
Other cyclists named in the news release were Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.
By Brahma Chellaney
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