Hincapie, Leipheimer, Zabriskie & Vandevelde in alleged dope ban deal for evidence against Lance Armstrong

Jonathan Vaughters also named as witness, but he rubbishes six month rider suspension claim

by Simon_MacMichael   July 5, 2012  

Lance Armstrong (pic courtesy Photosport International)

Garmin-Sharp team manager Jonathan Vaughters has moved to deny a report from Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that two of his riders, David Zabriskie and Christian Vandevelde, are among four big-name American cyclists: George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer being the other two, who will receive six-month bans from the sport after testifying against their former team mate at US Postal Service, Lance Armstrong and others including RadioShack-Nissan boss Johan Bruyneel. The newspaper also reported that Vaughters himself had also provided evidence to the US Anti-Doping Agency.

On his Twitter feed this morning, Vaughters said: “Regarding the Dutch media report: No 6mos suspensions have been given to any member of Slipstream Sports. Today or at any future date,” adding, “Which is a total buzz kill, as I was online looking at a place in Bora Bora.”

All four riders are currently participating in the Tour de France, and De Telegraaf reports that the alleged bans had been negotiated to run from the end of this season. Hincapie, who last year was reported to have provided testimony to the separate Federal Grand Jury investigation into doping that he and Armstrong both used EPO at US Postal, recently announced that he would retire after next month’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

Last month, USA Cycling announced that Garmin-Sharp riders Zabriskie and Vandevelde, Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Leipheimer and BMC rider Hincapie had all made themselves unavailable for selection for the Olympic Games, with Hincapie subsequently explaining that he had done so for personal reasons.

News of their Olympic non-availabilityl came immediately after news broke that the USADA had sent a 15-page letter to Armstrong and others detailing allegations of their involvement in a “massive doping conspiracy,” with the agency saying that it at least ten professional cyclists were prepared to provide evidence, the quartet’s non-availability for London was seen as being linked to the investigation.

If true, De Telegraaf’s story, carried on its front page, would appear to confirm that.

Armstrong has consistently denied doping allegations made against him throughout his career and following his retirement, pointing out that he has never tested positive – but then, neither have any of the four cyclists named today, making it harder to dismiss their allegations, assuming they have provided testimony, as being due to jealousy or sour grapes as he and his defence team have done with Floyd Landis or Tyler Hamilton, for instance.

One thing that is unclear is where the leak has come from. The Armstrong camp has reportedly employed private investigators to assist it in its defence of the allegations against the seven time Tour de France winner and Armstrong has repeatedly called on USADA to reveal the identities of its witnesses, a move which has been consistently restisted by the organisation.

Last week USADA's Review Panel unanimously agreed that proceedings should be opened against Armstrong, Bruyneel and their co-accussed. The revelation of their identities, will presumably will lead to immediate pressure on the riders’ teams as well as Tour de France organisers ASO to exclude them from the race - a factor which may well have played a part in the calculations of whoever leaked their names.

13 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Why Captain America?? Why????

If this is true, it's going to make the Armstrong trial very very interesting. Strange that they would delay the bans of the other 4..

posted by stoofdawg [10 posts]
5th July 2012 - 11:33

like this
Like (1)

Intriguing.

NOT

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1728 posts]
5th July 2012 - 11:33

like this
Like (1)

Kinda knew something like this was coming, but (against my cynicism) I really hoped George H was clean.

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2940 posts]
5th July 2012 - 12:03

like this
Like (1)

And the house of cards comes tumbling down...

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
5th July 2012 - 12:15

like this
Like (3)

Sometimes I hate this sport.

Mariachi's picture

posted by Mariachi [25 posts]
5th July 2012 - 12:19

like this
Like (3)

i allways did wonder about george, what a shame if its true.

posted by mandy [83 posts]
5th July 2012 - 12:24

like this
Like (2)

Vaughters is Mr Clean isn't he?

posted by italiafirenze [68 posts]
5th July 2012 - 12:36

like this
Like (2)

If Armstrong doped to such a degree, it would be extremely naive to believe that his Lieutenant 'Big George' (copywright Paul Sherwen) was not plugged into the same gear. There was an allegation from a witness testimony to the Fed investigation that USP used to stop the bus on a mountain road after a stage and en masse, transfused blood together.

The same goes for any other member of USP, Discovery. I suspect things were different a little at Astana and The Shack as LA wasn't necessarily the GC contender there and doping control/bio passport had improved things.

I really hope we look back on 2012 as a seminal period for ridding cycling of organised doping on this scale. However, with Pat and his friends at the UCI, there is little hope...

arrieredupeleton

posted by arrieredupeleton [536 posts]
5th July 2012 - 13:22

like this
Like (3)

Well according to Millar's book part of the drive for setting up Garmin (IIRC) was distancing themselves from the doped people/aspects of the sport, so I suppose he may then have stories about "during my time before Garmin..."

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2940 posts]
5th July 2012 - 13:27

like this
Like (4)

Let me get this right - someone correct me if I am wrong. As I read it whole a team stops on the road side transfuses blood everyday and since 1999 not one of them has been caught. I assume with 9 riders per team and just during the T de F 3 weeks of riding and the doping checks never found anything.

That is an extremely impressive or very very lucky team or the doping tests out of event time and during events must be totally incompetent or never happened. I am sure some one would have noticed a team bus stopping for a couple of hours every stage in a quite location. I'm sorry this does not sound right, there are too many holes in this.

I would love to know the if the four riders who testifying have any other evidence other than extreme judicial pressure to talk or adapt stories. Why not come out before.

posted by Ciaran Patrick [117 posts]
5th July 2012 - 15:03

like this
Like (1)

Why not come out before? Because it was suicide - look at what happened to those who did.

Timing is everything - and now the influence, power and credibility wielded throughout the peloton by the Armstrong camp is sufficiently diminished to make it possible to pursue this.

To be honest - i don't understand why this issue raises people's blood pressure to such an extent. I used to be a big fan of Armstrong - now I believe he's guilty...not in a rabid, eye-popping and aggressive way like so many road.cc devotees, but it seems very likely that he did it and it really is very important that the truth comes out. The sport is a billion times more important than the man - however charismatic he may be. (In fact I have a feeling that most of the vitriol and unpleasantness that Armstrong engenders is coming from the legion of 'new' fans he brought to cycling - the old fans (people who love cycling first) are far more concerned with establishing a platform from which cycling can move on.)

We are close - I really believe we are - to changing the balance of doping in the sport. It really does seem like it is cleaning up - and in 25 years of following bike racing that's the first time I've been able to say that. These four riders (assuming they ARE going to give evidence) are incredibly important because they have not failed drug tests themselves, and they cannot be cast in the usual mold of embittered cheats trying for revenge...though to be fair that argument never really washed in any case - when a mafia don or member of an organised crime syndicate turns state-evidence the prosecutors are falling over themselves to work with them. Only in cycling is it assumed that having been there and done that in some way disqualifies you to pull back the curtain for the world-at-large.

I have no idea (and no opinion since I believe it's irrelevant) about the transfusions on board the USP bus and other such tales - I'm sure the truth encompasses things from the mundane to the incredible. I do think he was doped though. And if we are to move forward properly - these ghosts should be laid to rest with full disclosure, and then we can start enjoying a new golden era of what is - to me - still the most exciting, romantic and dramatic sport in the world.

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
5th July 2012 - 15:54

like this
Like (5)

and for the record - I think doping at this time was so rife that the people not doing it were very much in the minority.

I don't even have a problem with that (or at least I can make my peace with it). If one works from the position (as I now do) that Armstrong was doped, then Hincapie et al would have to have been doped too, otherwise they'd have been less than useless to him.

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
5th July 2012 - 16:00

like this
Like (3)

Exactly. I have imagined a couple of bags of their own blood on key days of the tour and systematic chemical enhancement out of race season. Armstrong had huge sway with ASO and the UCI. The more he won the harder it became to announce or even prove it was a lie. I'm more interested in a structure that seems able to spot some dopers and not others. Fascinating stuff. 'Parable for our times' etc etc. Armstrong really is a figure from Greek tragedy now.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1029 posts]
6th July 2012 - 7:40

like this
Like (2)