The United States Anti-Doping Agency said its investigation of anti-doping allegations involving cyclist Lance Armstrong revealed that he was at the center of “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
The agency, which monitors performance-enhancing drug use in the U.S., previewed its report on Armstrong, which was released shortly before 3 p.m. EDT and can be read here, in a statement from USADA CEO Travis J. Tygart on its website. The report, it said, will include sworn testimony from 26 people, including 11 former United States Postal Service teammates. They have admitted doping and say that Armstrong did as well, encouraging it and administering products. Armstrong has always denied doping, but chose this summer to give up his fight against allegations. He has been banned from competition and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
The testimony, according to USADA, is supplemented by financial records and laboratory results and is expected to be the most comprehensive report on Armstrong’s alleged doping. The 11 teammates USADA named are: Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.
“The U.S.P.S. Team doping conspiracy was professionally designed to groom and pressure athletes to use dangerous drugs, to evade detection, to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair competitive advantage through superior doping practices,” the agency said in a statement on its website. “A program organized by individuals who thought they were above the rules and who still play a major and active role in sport today.”
On Tuesday, Armstrong’s lawyer sent a strongly-worded letter to USADA. The letter, written by Timothy J. Herman of Austin, accused USADA of waging a vendetta against Armstrong and basing its case on testimony that has been pressured and coerced from witnesses, including former Armstrong teammates Floyd Landis, George Hincapie and Tyler Hamilton. It characterized them as “serial perjurers.”
Hincapie issued a statement Wednesday, in which he said he was approached by federal agents three years ago. “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,” Hincapie said (via the Wall Street Journal).
USADA posted the report, which runs over 200 pages, on its website after it was sent to the International Cycling Union, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the World Triathlon Corporation. UCI has challenged USADA’s authority in the matter. Armstrong was the target of a two-year federal criminal investigation that was closed without explanation last February. USADA officially charged that Armstrong was guilty of doping and drug trafficking in June and he filed suit in Texas federal court, claiming USADA lacked jurisdiction and that the arbitration process violated his constitutional rights. A judge threw out the case in August and, three days later, Armstrong announced that he would fight the charges no longer. He was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life, both from cycling and from all events sanctioned by organizations governed by WADA.
Will the report change public opinion on Armstrong, who is an enormously popular draw now in triathlons? In a Post poll in August that drew over 16,000 votes in August, 57 percent of voters said they did not believe he was guilty of doping. In his statement, Tygart says of Armstrong: “[He] was given the same opportunity to come forward and be part of the solution [as his teammates]. He rejected it.”
Poll results: Most believe Armstrong is innocent
Text: Armstrong’s statement