The United States Anti-Doping Agency on October 10th released evidence of cyclist Lance Armstrong's flourishing career mired with doping. The USADA's 'Reasoned Decision
' was released based on testimonies of 26 athletes.
The most critical evidence assembled by USADA had come from Armstrong’s former teammates and former employees of the UnitedStates Postal Service (USPS) and Discovery Channel cycling teams who decided that it was the right thing to do for clean sport to come forward.
The USADA had also reached out to Armstrong to cooperate with USADA’s investigation as had many of Mr. Armstrong’s teammates. Armstrong, however, refused to meet with USADA.
The USADA said that the achievements of the USPS/Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, including those of Lance Armstrong as its leader, were accomplished through a massive team doping scheme, more extensive than any previously revealed in professional sports history.
The release also threw light on the fact that over the years Armstrong and his representatives went to great lengths to attack people who were willing to confirm the truth of his doping.
"Armstrong did not act alone. He acted with the help of a small army of enablers, including doping doctors, drug smugglers, and others within and outside the sport and on his team. However, the evidence is also clear that Armstrong had ultimate control over not only his own personal drug use, which was extensive, but also over the doping culture of his team, " said the agency.
"On paper, Armstrong’s team contract provided him with “extensive input into rider and staff composition.” In practice, however, as a team owner and by virtue of the power his rapidly accumulating titles conferred, his effective control was even greater," it further added.
His goal led him to depend on EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions but also, more ruthlessly, to expect and to require that his teammates would likewise use drugs to support his goals if not their own.
The USADA also maintained that, "The evidence is overwhelming that Lance Armstrong did not just use performance enhancing drugs, he supplied them to his teammates. He did not merely go alone to Dr. Michele Ferrari for doping advice, he expected that others would follow. He was not just a part of the doping culture on his team, he enforced and re-enforced it. Armstrong’s use of drugs was extensive, and the doping program on his team, designed in large part to benefit Armstrong, was massive and pervasive."
It further added that there was evidence, "that Mr. Armstrong and his team director, team doctors, team trainers and teammates cheated throughout the 1998 –2010 time period."
The anti-doping rule violations for which Armstrong was charged include:
- Use and/or attempted use of prohibited substances and/or methods including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, corticosteroids and/or masking agents.
- Possession of prohibited substances and/or methods including EPO, blood transfusions and related equipment (such as needles, blood bags, storage containers and other transfusion equipment and blood parameters measuring devices), testosterone, corticosteroids and/or masking agents.
- Trafficking of EPO, testosterone, and/or corticosteroids.
- Assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up and other complicity involving one or more anti-doping rule violations and/or attempted anti-doping rule violations
- Aggravating circumstances (including multiple rule violations and participated in a sophisticated scheme and conspiracy to dope, encourage and assist others to dope and cover up rule violations) justifying a period of ineligibility greater than the standard sanction.
In an attempt to seek a new strategy of (blood) doping, Lance Armstrong and two of his teammates on the United States Postal Service cycling squad flew on a private jet to Valencia, Spain, in June 2000, to have blood extracted. Upon arriving in Valencia the riders were driven to a hotel where the blood extraction would be performed.
In addition to blood doping, the USADA also gathered first hand evidence that Armstrong had used testosterone in 2000 and that he evaded drug testing in order to avoid a positive test.
At a race in Spain a teammate had heard from Armstrong that he had just taken testosterone. Lance told his teammate,” that he was feeling good and recovered that he had just taken some ‘oil.’”
The teammate further testified that “[w]hen I heard that drug testing officials were at the hotel, I texted Lance to warn him to avoid the place. As a result, Lance dropped out of the race.”
The agency also said that Armstrong had engaged in blood doping at the 2000 Tour de France.
After winning his fourth straight Tour de France, Armstrong returned to Girona where he had called a teammate at his residence.
Armstrong told him that if he wanted to continue to ride for the Postal Service team he “would have to use what Dr. (Michele) Ferrari had been telling to use and would have to follow Dr. Ferrari’s program to the letter.”
The witness said, “[t]he conversation left me with no question that I was in the doghouse and that the only way forward with Armstrong’s team was to get fully on Dr. Ferrari’s doping program."
It confirmed what the teammate had known for a long time, “Lance called the shots on the team . . . what Lance said went.”
Armstrong, who retired from cycling last year, has repeatedly denied doping.
The teammates who submitted sworn affidavits included some of the best contemporaries of Armstrong.: Levi Leipheimer, Tyler Hamilton and George Hincapie, one of the most respected American riders in recent history. Other teammates were Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Floyd Landis, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.