U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report: Lance Armstrong at center of doping program

Lance Armstrong led the most elaborate, successful doping program cycling has seen, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency says in its case report.

Associated Press (2010)

Lance Armstrong led the most elaborate, successful doping program cycling has seen, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency says in its case report.

Lance Armstrong said he wanted to see the names of his accusers. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency gave him 26, including 11 former teammates.

The world's most famous cyclist said he wanted to see the hard evidence he was a doper. The agency gave him that, too: 202 pages of vivid details, from hotel rooms transformed into blood-transfusion centers to the way Armstrong's then-wife rolled cortisone pills into foil and handed them out to the cyclists.

In all, an agency report released Wednesday gives the most detailed, unflinching portrayal yet of Armstrong as a man who spared no expense — financially, emotionally or physically — to win the seven Tour de France titles the agency has ordered taken away.

Armstrong won the Tour as leader of the U.S. Postal Service team from 1999-2004 and again in 2005 with the Discovery Channel as primary sponsor. He and his teams were part of "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen," agency chief executive Travis Tygart said in releasing the report.

Armstrong played a key role by not only doping but supplying doping products and demanding his top teammates dope so he could succeed, the report says.

Armstrong, 41, said in August he would not fight the agency's charges but again insisted he never cheated. He agreed to forgo an arbitration hearing at which the evidence would have been aired, possibly publicly. The agency banned him for life from competitive cycling and all other Olympic-related sports, and stripped him of his Tour titles.

Armstrong, who retired from cycling last year, had no comment on the report, his spokesman told the New York Times.

His 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."

In some ways, the report simply pulls together and amplifies allegations that have followed Armstrong since he was declared free of testicular cancer and won his first Tour. But it is the most extensive, groundbreaking layout of his alleged use of banned performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions, bolstered by new interviews, financial statements and laboratory results.

It includes sworn testimony from 26 people, including the ex-teammates who said they saw Armstrong doping and-or doped, too. That group includes some of the best cyclists of Armstrong's generation: Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde, Tyler Hamilton and George Hincapie, one of the most respected U.S. riders and a close friend of Armstrong's. Hincapie was the only cyclist with Armstrong for all his Tour wins.

Hincapie had not admitted publicly to doping until Wednesday, in a statement on his website. He wrote it became clear, early in his pro career, "given the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete … without them. I deeply regret that choice."

Hincapie, who retired this year after a record 17th Tour, said he has been clean since 2006.

He did not mention Armstrong in his statement. Of his testimony, he said, "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."

Though she didn't testify, Armstrong's ex-wife, Kristin, is mentioned 30 times in the report.

In one episode, Armstrong asks her to wrap banned cortisone pills in foil to hand out to his teammates.

"Kristin obliged Armstrong's request by wrapping the pills and handing them to the riders. One of the riders remarked, 'Lance's wife is rolling joints,' " the report says.

Attempts to reach Kristin Armstrong for comment by the Associated Press were unsuccessful. The couple divorced in 2003 after five years of marriage.

There is a question of whether the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency or the cycling's governing body has the ultimate authority to take away the Tour titles. The governing body said it wanted to see the agency's case before it agreed with the findings.

Armstrong case highlights

Highlights of the 202-page excerpt of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's doping case against Lance Armstrong released Wednesday:

. Testimony from 11 ex-Armstrong teammates who said they had doped and-or been a party to his doping. Among them is Armstrong's close friend George Hincapie, the only cyclist with Armstrong for all seven of his Tour de France victories. Hincapie had not admitted publicly to doping until Wednesday.

. Multiple examples of Armstrong using multiple drugs, including the blood-boosting hormone EPO, citing the "clear finding" of EPO in six blood samples from the 1999 Tour that were retested. The sport's governing body concluded those samples were mishandled and couldn't be used to prove anything. The agency considers them corroborating evidence of witness testimony.

. Emails and financial records of Armstrong's continuing relationship with Italian doctor and training guru Michele Ferrari, considered the alleged plan's mastermind, after Armstrong said he had cut ties with him following Ferrari's conviction of "sporting fraud" and malpractice in Italy in 2004. The conviction was overturned on appeal.

. What cyclist Jonathan Vaughters called "an outstanding early warning system regarding drug tests." One example was in 2000, when Hincapie found out drug testers were at the hotel where Armstrong's team was staying for a race. Aware Armstrong had taken testosterone before the race, Hincapie alerted him, and Armstrong dropped out of the race to avoid being tested.

. To see the full report, go to cyclinginvestigation.usada.org.

U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report: Lance Armstrong at center of doping program 10/10/12 [Last modified: Thursday, October 11, 2012 8:26am]

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