Lance Armstrong, once considered the greatest cyclist of all time, had 11 teammates testify against him in a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation, claiming the seven-time Tour de France champion used “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen” to cheat his way to stardom.
In a news release previewing its decision to suspend Armstrong for life and vacant his titles, USADA CEO Travis 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.
Armstrong spokesman Mark Fabiani deferred to a letter the cyclist’s attorney sent to the USADA on Tuesday.
The letter accused USADA of acting as “prosecutor, judge, jury, appellate court and executioner” in issuing a “biased, one-sided and untested version of events.” It also renewed Armstrong’s assertion that witnesses, particularly riders, were offered deals of reduced punishments in exchange for their testimony against him.
Tygart insisted the USADA has handled this case under the same rules as any other, cognizant of the criticism it has faced from Armstrong and his legion of followers.
“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,” he said.
In delivering the report to the International Cycling Union (UCI), Tygart called for the federation to create a meaningful program to help clean up the sport.
Tygart said the evidence shows the code of silence that dominated cycling has been shattered.
He 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 1999-2005.
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.
In the letter to USADA attorneys, Armstrong’s attorney dismissed any evidence provided by Landis and Hamilton, calling them “serial perjurers and have told diametrically contradictory stories under oath.”
Hincapie was one of Armstrong’s closest and most loyal teammates through the years, and a statement he release was damaging.
“Two years ago, I was approached by U.S. federal investigators, and more recently by USADA, and asked to tell of my personal experience in these matters,” the cyclist said in a statement published shortly after USADA’s release. “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.”
Tygart said all the facts in the Armstrong case and the cases of six other riders targeted in USADA’s investigation would be made available on the agency’s website later Wednesday.
Two other players in the Postal team’s circle, Dr. Michele Ferrari and Dr. Garcia del Moral, also received lifetime bans 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 persistently 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.