“In some part, it would have been easier for them if it all would just go away,” Tygart said in a statement. “However, they love the sport, and they want to help young athletes have hope that they are not put in the position they were: To face the reality that in order to climb to the heights of their sport they had to sink to the depths of dangerous cheating.”
In addition, two of the USPS team’s physicians, Michele Ferrari and Garcia del Moral, have also been given lifetime bans by USADA for their part in the doping conspiracy. Three others are contesting the charged through arbitration: team director Johan Bruyneel; Pedro Celaya, a team doctor; and team trainer Jose “Pepe” Marti.
Armstrong, 41, who survived a battle with testicular cancer, has fought doping allegations much of his career. But he abandoned his legal fight in August. Going forward would have meant having to testify under oath against the claims of nearly a dozen former teammates; giving up the fight was tantamount to a no-contest plea, guaranteeing he would be stripped of his titles and banned from the sport.
Still, a question remains about whether USADA has the right to mete out the punishment it has. That’s why the UCI demanded the evidence presented Wednesday. The UCI has 21 days to review USADA’s case against Armstrong. If it is satisfied, the penalties will stand. If unconvinced, the UCI could appeal USADA’s actions to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The report charges Armstrong with using the banned drug EPO and providing it to Hamilton.
Then, after an effective test to detect EPO was developed, the report says that Armstrong engaged in an elaborate practice of blood transfusions, having blood withdrawn and stored throughout the year, then undergoing secret transfusions in the team doctor’s hotel room periodically throughout the Tour de France. Re-infused blood boosts its overall oxygen-carrying capacity and gives athletes extra energy.
Not all of the report’s evidence consists of first-hand accounts; much is based on inference, such as one teammate seeing Armstrong close the door of a team doctor’s room and emerge with notably more energy 45 minutes later (roughly the time a blood infusion takes).
USADA’s financial evidence of doping is hardly iron-clad, either. The report contains records of several deposits worth more than $1 million that Armstrong made in the Swiss bank account of Michele Ferarri, who in 2004 was convicted in an Italian court for helping athletes dope. But the service rendered in exchange for the payment is an open question.
Armstrong’s professional relationship with Ferrari, which he publicly severed following the Italian’s conviction, led to one of the instances of witness-intimidation cited in the report. According to Italian cyclist Filippo Simeoni, who testified against Ferrari, Armstrong rode up beside him during the 2004 Tour de France and said, “You made a mistake when you testified against Ferrari . . . I have a lot of time and money and I can destroy you.” Armstrong was captured on video making a “zip the lips” gesture.”
The report also cites testimony of former Armstrong teammate Levi Leipheimer, who said that after he had testified to a federal grand jury about Armstrong, the cyclist sent Leipheimer’s wife a text message saying, “run don’t walk,” which she perceived as a threat.