Some 1,200 pages of evidence collected by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) will later today be thudding through the letterbox at the UCI headquarters in Aigle - or at least taking quite a long time to squeeze in to the UCI inbox.
The document, the largest of its kind ever compiled by the agency, contains eyewitness, documentary, first-hand, scientific, direct and circumstantial evidence which USADA's CEO, Travis Tygart said in a statement ahead of publication revealed "conclusive and undeniable proof that brings to the light of day for the first time this systemic, sustained and highly professionalized team-run doping conspiracy."
In a long statement ahead of publication of the evidence on the USADA website, Tygart also named the former USPS riders who had given evidence against Armstrong.
Those were Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.
All but the Canadian Barry are American, and every American who rode the Tour de France for US Postal and its successor team Disccovery Channel from 1999 to 2005, the seven editions Armstrong won, has provided testimony to USADA - other than Armstrong himself, and Kevin Livingston, who rode in the 1999 and 2000 editions.
Livingston himself, Nowadays he runs the Pedal Hard Training Center at Mellow Johnny's - the Austin, Texas bike shop owned by Armstrong is implicated in doping in USADA's reasoned decision, and the agency has said that its investigation into doping will continue and that others will be charged.
Immediately after publication of the USADA statement, George Hincapie released a statement of his own. In which he admitted using banned substances until 2006.
That was the year after Armstrong's first retirement, and Hincapie himself would ride one more season with the team, by then named Discovery Channel, before switching to High Road in 2008.
"Because of my love for the sport, the contributions I feel I have made to it, and the amount the sport of cycling has given to me over the years, it is extremely difficult today to acknowledge that during a part of my career I used banned substances.
"Early in my professional career, it became clear to me that, given the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete at the highest level without them.
"I deeply regret that choice and sincerely apologize to my family, teammates and fans."
The three-time US national champion, a stalwart of the USPS and Discovery Channel teams, also said that since 2006 "Quietly, and in the way I know best, I have been trying to rectify that decision. I have competed clean and have not used any performance enhancing drugs or processes for the past six years."
Tygart thanked the rider for their bravery in coming forward and also backed calls for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission - an idea floated by UCI President, Pat McQuaid - as the best way for cycling to move on and establish a new culture of clean competition.
Today, we are sending the ‘Reasoned Decision’ in the Lance Armstrong case and supporting information to the Union Cycliste International (UCI), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC). The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.
The evidence of the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team-run scheme is overwhelming and is in excess of 1000 pages, and includes sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the US Postal Service Team (USPS Team) and its participants’ doping activities. The evidence also includes direct documentary evidence including financial payments, emails, scientific data and laboratory test results that further prove the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong and confirm the disappointing truth about the deceptive activities of the USPS Team, a team that received tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars in funding.
Together these different categories of eyewitness, documentary, first-hand, scientific, direct and circumstantial evidence reveal conclusive and undeniable proof that brings to the light of day for the first time this systemic, sustained and highly professionalized team-run doping conspiracy. All of the material will be made available later this afternoon on the USADA website at www.usada.org.
The USPS 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. A program organized by individuals who thought they were above the rules and who still play a major and active role in sport today.
The evidence demonstrates that the ‘Code of Silence’ of performance enhancing drug use in the sport of cycling has been shattered, but there is more to do. From day one, we always hoped this investigation would bring to a close this troubling chapter in cycling’s history and we hope the sport will use this tragedy to prevent it from ever happening again.
Of course, no one wants to be chained to the past forever, and I would call on the UCI to act on its own recent suggestion for a meaningful Truth and Reconciliation program. While we appreciate the arguments that weigh in favor of and against such a program, we believe that allowing individuals like the riders mentioned today to come forward and acknowledge the truth about their past doping may be the only way to truly dismantle the remaining system that allowed this “EPO and Blood Doping Era” to flourish. Hopefully, the sport can unshackle itself from the past, and once and for all continue to move forward to a better future.
Our mission is to protect clean athletes by preserving the integrity of competition not only for today’s athletes but also the athletes of tomorrow. We have heard from many athletes who have faced an unfair dilemma — dope, or don’t compete at the highest levels of the sport. Many of them abandoned their dreams and left sport because they refused to endanger their health and participate in doping. That is a tragic choice no athlete should have to make.
It took tremendous courage for the riders on the USPS Team and others to come forward and speak truthfully. It is not easy to admit your mistakes and accept your punishment. But that is what these riders have done for the good of the sport, and for the young riders who hope to one day reach their dreams without using dangerous drugs or methods.
These eleven (11) teammates of Lance Armstrong, in alphabetical order, 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 riders who participated in the USPS Team doping conspiracy and truthfully assisted have been courageous in making the choice to stop perpetuating the sporting fraud, and they have suffered greatly. In addition to the public revelations, the active riders have been suspended and disqualified appropriately in line with the rules. In some part, it would have been easier for them if it all would just go away; 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.
I have personally talked with and heard these athletes’ stories and firmly believe that, collectively, these athletes, if forgiven and embraced, have a chance to leave a legacy far greater for the good of the sport than anything they ever did on a bike.
Lance Armstrong was given the same opportunity to come forward and be part of the solution. He rejected it.
Instead he exercised his legal right not to contest the evidence and knowingly accepted the imposition of a ban from recognized competition for life and disqualification of his competitive results from 1998 forward. The entire factual and legal basis on the outcome in his case and the other six active riders’ cases will be provided in the materials made available online later today. Two other members of the USPS Team, Dr. Michele Ferrari and Dr. Garcia del Moral, also received lifetime bans for perpetrating this doping conspiracy.
Three other members of the USPS Team have chosen to contest the charges and take their cases to arbitration: Johan Bruyneel, the team director; Dr. Pedro Celaya, a team doctor; and Jose “Pepe” Marti, the team trainer. These three individuals will receive a full hearing before independent judges, where they will have the opportunity to present and confront the evidence, cross-examine witnesses and testify under oath in a public proceeding.
From day one in this case, as in every potential case, the USADA Board of Directors and professional staff did the job we are mandated to do for clean athletes and the integrity of sport. We focused solely on finding the truth without being influenced by celebrity or non-celebrity, threats, personal attacks or political pressure because that is what clean athletes deserve and demand.”
More to follow
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.