Former Lance Armstrong teammates excluded themselves from Olympics

Meanwhile Italian paper reports large secret payments to controversial doctor

by Sarah Barth   June 17, 2012  

Lance Armstrong (pic courtesy Photosport International)

The Lance Armstrong doping allegations continue to gather pace today, with widespread speculation over the reasons for vast sums of money allegedly changing hands, and four of Armstrong’s ex-teammates asking to be removed from consideration for the 2012 Olympic USA cycling team.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie all asked for their names to be removed from the list of hopefuls before it was announced on Saturday.

In a statement, USA Cycling said: “USA Cycling will not speculate on the reasoning behind their requests and will not have further comment. Any questions related to their decision should be directed to the individual athletes.”

The four all worked as teammates of Armstrong at various times while he was in the US Postal team, under the management of Johan Bruyneel, who is also implicated in the scandal by the US Anti-Doping Agency.

Meanwhile Italy’s Gazetta dello Sport newspaper says that long investigation into Michele Ferrari, an Italian sports doctor, by the Padua prosecutor Benedetto Roberti has thrown up a payment of $465,000, reportedly made by Armstrong to Ferrari in 2006.

Ferrari was previously banned from working with athletes in Italy, but the payment in 2006 post-dates Armstrong’s retirement from pro cycling. Ferrari was convicted for sporting fraud and illegally acting as a pharmacist, but was later cleared due to the statute of limitations.

The prosecutor alleges that an investigation using wiretaps, email analysis and examination of bank accounts to build a case against Ferrari involves 90 cyclists as well as a sum of €30 million.

Speculation about both the money transfers and the avoidance of the Olympics by the four riders hints at sinister motives, although the Olympics has never been a high priority for many pro cyclists - Mark Cavendish famously said that Olympic gold was a ticket to a post-race career opening supermarkets - and the riders might have known in advance that USA Cycling was planning to select a predominantly younger team.

The team, announced on Friday, will be Taylor Phinney, Tejay van Garderen, Chris Horner, Timmy Duggan and Tyler Farrar.

Jim Miller, vice president of athletics at USA Cyling said in a statement: "We have a strong team going to London with a solid combination of experience, leadership and young talented athletes who are all capable of standout performances.”

25 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

The plot thickens...

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3417 posts]
17th June 2012 - 15:34

2 Likes

Can it get any thicker?

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1733 posts]
17th June 2012 - 16:54

2 Likes

it would get thicker if it turned out Lance was actually Michele Ferrari in disguise.

samjackson54's picture

posted by samjackson54 [60 posts]
17th June 2012 - 17:05

2 Likes

Does any of it really matter anymore? Guilty or not most people have made up their minds and few have enough confidence in the legal processes around drugs offenses and the UCI for any of this to change their opinions.

The worst thing is the continued damage this affair is inflicting on the sport. Armstrong's a big name with a bigger reputation. If it turns out he is a drugs cheat it'll do lasting damage to the sports reputation and its wider perception. When the sports greatest champion is shown to have been a drugs cheat, especially where there's a back story like Armstrong's, so many fans and non-fans alike will feel so cheated and conned that the sport of cycling may not recover.

As much as we may want to know the truth, I can't imagine anything worse for the sport than Armstrong being guilty, there'll be protests, appeals, investigations and it'll rumble on for years overshadowing the sport and the achievements of those riders left behind.

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
17th June 2012 - 17:36

3 Likes

samjackson54 wrote:
it would get thicker if it turned out Lance was actually Michele Ferrari in disguise.

Or a woman

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1733 posts]
17th June 2012 - 18:20

2 Likes

joking aside, lets assume Lance doped for the time being. All the others he beat doped. So doping was a level playing field, meaning Lance is still a great champion. Essentially he was the best whether he doped or not. Thinking

samjackson54's picture

posted by samjackson54 [60 posts]
17th June 2012 - 18:29

2 Likes

Younger USA Team being selected? Chris Horner is 40+

cycle more, work less!

posted by trek7000 [46 posts]
17th June 2012 - 19:04

2 Likes

drheaton wrote:
Does any of it really matter anymore?

Yes it does. Armstrong was shadowed by doping allegations for pretty much his entire career, a career that ended finally only last year. At last those allegations are going to be properly tested by an appropriate authority. If cycling wants to draw a line under the years and practices that Armstrong exemplified then this case matter hugely. Not only that, he is just one of the people named. The others (Bruyneel and the dodgy doctors) are all still involved with top level teams. Do you not think that matters?

Rob Simmonds's picture

posted by Rob Simmonds [253 posts]
17th June 2012 - 19:55

4 Likes

Cor blimey - nobody's gone on and on about a witch hunt yet. They must have worn themselves out hijacking the comments on Cycling Weekly.

posted by Jon [35 posts]
17th June 2012 - 20:15

3 Likes

I agree with dr heaton. Whatever your views on whether he doped, or not, and I think we all have our own opinion on that, this whole investigation is going to be terrible for the sport of cycling.

How far do the investigators want to take things? Fausto Coppi admitted to using drugs. Let's start investigating every TdF and Giro winner sine 1945 huh?

This investigation is too late and ultimately, even for those who hate doping and want offenders caught and punished, what do you think it will achieve?

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
17th June 2012 - 20:20

2 Likes

'When the sports greatest champion is shown to have been a drugs cheat'

Woah...have they got something on Merckx too?

Yes it matters. It's not damaging to our sport, it's showing that we are getting our shop in order and not letting people get away with sporting fraud on a huge scale.

posted by andyp [1013 posts]
17th June 2012 - 20:30

2 Likes

Good news. Cycling needs to clean up and kick out the Ferrari and Bruyneels. It is clear cycling is still riddled with doping so these investigations are needed. The sport is cleaner now but there are still the Valverdes, Scarponis, Frank Schlecks, etc in the peleton.

posted by seanbolton [142 posts]
17th June 2012 - 20:48

3 Likes

londonplayer wrote:
I agree with dr heaton. Whatever your views on whether he doped, or not, and I think we all have our own opinion on that, this whole investigation is going to be terrible for the sport of cycling.

If it is terrible, whose fault will that be? Will you blame the cheats and liars who have led to this situation or will you blame the anti-doping authorities whose job it is to keep the sport clean?

Leveson and the expenses scandal were terrible for politics and a corrupt media. Should we have turned a blind eye there too?

Rob Simmonds's picture

posted by Rob Simmonds [253 posts]
17th June 2012 - 21:13

2 Likes

londonplayer wrote:
How far do the investigators want to take things? Fausto Coppi admitted to using drugs. Let's start investigating every TdF and Giro winner sine 1945 huh?

Can we not just leave this alone? The slight pleasure Ullrich or anyone else would get from being announced the winner would be completely outweighed by the damage it would cause if Armstrong were found to have doped. I don't think he did personally, but look at Andy Schleck reaction to when he was announced the winner of 2010. He didnt get any joy from it, so the only people who would be pleased if Armstrong were found to have doped would be his haters... *deep breath* rant over Sigh At Wits End

posted by williamtenison [32 posts]
17th June 2012 - 21:51

2 Likes

trek7000 wrote:
Younger USA Team being selected? Chris Horner is 40+

I think you'll find the article uses the words 'predominantly younger team', so unfair to criticise Smile

posted by BikeJon [53 posts]
17th June 2012 - 21:55

2 Likes

90 cyclists? Surprise

posted by paulfg42 [378 posts]
17th June 2012 - 22:31

3 Likes

andyp wrote:
'When the sports greatest champion is shown to have been a drugs cheat'

Woah...have they got something on Merckx too?

Yes it matters. It's not damaging to our sport, it's showing that we are getting our shop in order and not letting people get away with sporting fraud on a huge scale.

Merckx was caught several times. (Although he's still probably the greatest.) Fact is, it's gone on throughout the history of cycling and probably still does. Pre-EPO however the drugs were less effective and short-term mainly. Post-EPO they are very effective and although nearly everyone else was cheating during the Armstrong era we don't know to what extent his team and himself were more systematic and effective in their usage of these new methods than anyone else. Cheats still exist, Galimzynov got caught recently and Purito's performances were suspiciously good in the Giro compared to his norm.

But I agree with the second part.
Cycling's rep is already very low. This case won't improve it in the short term but in the long-term the past has to be dealt with and if Lance and his manager and teammates are guilty then justice must be seen to be done. It doesn't matter if who takes their place was perhaps equally guilty. Maybe we have to say that during that era no-one won. But Evans won last year and who knows who will this. Perhaps Wiggins who we all believe to be clean.

No sport will ever get rid of all cheating, cheating is hard-wired into nearly all of us. But even the Euros have been remarkably fair by football's recent standards and I'm sure the TdF is much better than it was a few years back, (and I didn't watch the Tour during the Armstrong era so I have no axe to grind about it). So let's enjoy the improved present and hope this case puts other people off in the future.

posted by Alan Tullett [1461 posts]
17th June 2012 - 22:41

3 Likes

I thought Eddy recently admitted to use of drugs which upset tour organizers? Didn't he accept an award at the Giro and make a drug-use statement just a day or two prior? Thinking It doesn't take anything away from him... he was the best.

posted by dino [57 posts]
18th June 2012 - 3:58

1 Like

Armstrong was my hero and part of the reason I took up cycling, now he's tainted I'm going to have to sell my bike, and take up a clean sport (anyone know one). If I get fat and and die early it will all be his fault. I hope he doesn't mind having that on his conscience!
In all seriousness (well as serious as I can be on a Monday morning) whatever happens this story will read in two ways depending how you are spinning it - Armstrong sympathisers - it's a witchhunt, others - a relentless pursuit to clean up the sport.
It would be nice to know the truth ultimately, but doesn't mean that I won't continue to watch stage racing in awe of what these folks can do.

Some people are like slinkies, not much use for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs

posted by KNOWNOTHINGBOZO [14 posts]
18th June 2012 - 5:43

3 Likes

OF COURSE it is important. Can a few of you actually look past Lance and to the potential charging of people still in the sport that facilitated systemic doping. This is not about Lance, it's about a group of guys at the top getting away with it.

posted by alwaysapleasure [16 posts]
18th June 2012 - 7:38

1 Like

@knownothingbozo - Your sig is awesome!

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3417 posts]
18th June 2012 - 8:52

1 Like

@knownothingbozo - Your sig is awesome! +1
For me Armstrong = Yawn It's not what you suspect...it's what you can prove

posted by SideBurn [854 posts]
18th June 2012 - 9:13

0 Likes

If we are going to chase after historical cyclists, champions or otherwise who are suspected of cheating, how far back do we go.... Tom Simpson? he took amphetamines and alcohol in the belief that it helped him up a mountain....a statue was erected for the man/cheat. At what point in history did someone draw the line on investigating such matters or is it possibly more of a case that if you happen to not come from one of the traditional European "cycling nations" but dominated the entire world in the sport for so many years.....cant have that, damed Americans.
For the sake of the sports long term credibility, lets keep the pressure on and continue to make the sport cleaner and fairer in the future, unless of course you are a mediocre sports authority investigator who wants a reputation which is grander than your capability and boost the content of your memoirs beyond one chapter.....Just sayin Big Grin

Bud

posted by BUD [33 posts]
18th June 2012 - 11:49

0 Likes

alwaysapleasure wrote:
OF COURSE it is important. Can a few of you actually look past Lance and to the potential charging of people still in the sport that facilitated systemic doping. This is not about Lance, it's about a group of guys at the top getting away with it.

That's the part people can't get past... it's only partly about Lance. But the media emphasizes the Lance component, and so does Lance. One thing few will argue is that Lance is one of the greatest egomaniacs the world has ever seen. Adding to the equation, he probably has more money and influence now than all the other people named in the investigation combined. He has the most to lose and he has by far the biggest motivation (and bankroll) to try to make this thing go away.

For all those saying "oh let's just drop it--it's going to make us all look bad" I offer that you maybe aren't looking at the bigger picture. Yes, it's dirty laundry that we'd prefer not to expose, but 5, 10, 50+ years down the line, if it remains unsettled, the sport will have only gotten many times worse than it is now. At what point to you step up to the plate and do what's right, no matter how painful?

I guarantee you that the farther this investigation goes, the more people in the sport will be trying to clean up their act. If not just for self-preservation (destroying evidence, severing ties, etc.) then for trying to adapt to a world where there may actually be stricter consequences--a world where getting away with doping for a year or a few years doesn't mean you're home free and can rest on a legacy.

posted by TheBigMong [218 posts]
18th June 2012 - 13:34

1 Like

Has anyone forgotten the people and institutions that bring these allegations. I seriously doubt that they have angel wings for wanting to bring this to a conclusion. There are political angles and benefits for for those chasing a 13/14 year old story. If they found nothing in the past what now is to be found.

These drug agencies and political bodies like those in the US of A bring these indictments and in Europe also have there own agendas and for them they need to be seen to be doing something.

I have to say that for someone like Lance Armstrong to never have tested positive and now face vague accusations relating to a myriad of connections and here say is a little bit much. Its human nature to believe the worst, and the papers don't help or do help it growing the histeria around all of this only creates a a hangmans court.

The bottom line is he was never caught and how many times must he have been tested more than anyone I expect. This a political elite striving for what ever motivation they have probably one of elevation and kudos.

posted by Ciaran Patrick [119 posts]
23rd June 2012 - 16:39

2 Likes