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Team thanks rider for his contribution to cleaning up the sport then terminates his contract

Levi Leipheimer today had his contract terminated by the Omega Pharma Quick-Step cycling team and became the first of the Lance Armstrong whistleblowers to lose his job as a result of confessing to being part of an organised doping ring at the USPS cycling team.

In a statement released this evening the team praised Leipheimer "for his co-operation with the USADA investigation and contribution to cleaning up the sport of cycling," but then went on to add, "However, in the light of the disclosures made by Mr Leipheimer in his public statement on 10th of October the team has decided to terminate the contract."

Leipheimer had been with the team for one season after signing from RadioShack at the end of the 2011 season. The frankness of Leipheimer's admissions in his affidavit to the USADA may have led the OPQS management to regard him as damaged goods. Leipheimer carried on his association with Bruyneel right up until the end of last season, and it is clear that although he doesn't mention actually doping while at RadioShack the topic was certainly up for discussion between him and the Belgian.

The economics of cycling are also unlikely to have done the American any favours with OPQS team boss Patrick Lefevre looking to fund the signing of Mark Cavendish from Team Sky and possibly reasoning that getting a star rider tainted by his doping past and banned for the next six months off the wage bill in order to help pay for the signing of a peloton superstar was something of a no-brainer. As the saying goes 'nothing personal just business'.

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.

30 comments

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onlyonediane [156 posts] 3 years ago
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Blimey,a team prepared to wield the axe,the sacking is no surprise. Suspect Leiphelmer will find another team come next March.,which makes sad reading,when his ban should of beeb for two years.

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AWPeleton [3282 posts] 3 years ago
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Everyone knew it was coming, it was just a matter of time which team acted first.

Lets hope he retires gracefully.

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 3 years ago
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onlyonediane wrote:

Blimey,a team prepared to wield the axe,the sacking is no surprise. Suspect Leiphelmer will find another team come next March.,which makes sad reading,when his ban should of beeb for two years.

I thought it should have been 4 years as its not his first offence.

RSNT will sign him up  19 19

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Mendip James [38 posts] 3 years ago
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Tricky, on one hand setting an example and taking a firm stance against a doped rider is the right step, on the other we kind of want to encourage honesty and riders to come forward and be truthful about their past/present, if they think they're going to be immediately axed vs. suspended then does that help. Plus these are the same teams which reportedly pile so much pressure on riders to win, in some cases encouraging to dope, a story hits the media and they cut their riders loose  7

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 3 years ago
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Mendip James wrote:

Tricky, on one hand setting an example and taking a firm stance against a doped rider is the right step, on the other we kind of want to encourage honesty and riders to come forward and be truthful about their past/present

We shouldn't have to encourage them to come forward and force them under affidavit's to admit things. They shouldn't have done it in the first place and no admitting it for a lighter sentence is non-sense.

Mendip James wrote:

if they think they're going to be immediately axed vs. suspended then does that help.

Thats exactly what should happen, sacked and given massive ban's, not this 6 month crap. OPQS might just hire him again after his suspension, that way saving themselves 6 months salary for a suspended rider  3

Mendip James wrote:

Plus these are the same teams which reportedly pile so much pressure on riders to win, in some cases encouraging to dope, a story hits the media and they cut their riders loose  7

The pressure will always be on a rider to win or help the team win, otherwise, whats the point in riding and getting paid to ride?

As for teams encouraging riders to dope. I think thats a thing of the past, In Levi's case, he wasn't doping at OPQS.

Saying that teams encourage doping and then drop riders when they are caught is a bit OTT. Levi's be dropped for doping years ago, not just having been caught. I hope the news will follow that all the other current riders involved with the Armstrong case will be sacked.

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handlebarcam [569 posts] 3 years ago
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...plus Tom Boonen has scored them plenty of UCI points at the spring classics, so they probably don't need his rather meager tally.

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AWPeleton [3282 posts] 3 years ago
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If the USADA enquiry had not been launched does anyone honestly think these riders would have come forward  13

And have they just come forward to get a more lenient ban than wait and hope they aren't mentioned by some other rider at a later stage and given a hefty ban  39

I know which one i believe.

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 3 years ago
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The only reason ANY of them spoke was to cover their own backs incase someone else mentioned them. There was no "oh lets just come clean"

It was basically forced upon them under the knowledge they would basically get off with it, a 6 month ban covering the off season, So all will be clear to ride next season. Thats bollocks if you ask me. They were all part of the Armstrong ring, without them there was NO ring to need the drugs, just Armstrong himself. He's got a life ban, time for the UCI to step up and enforce longer bans on the rest. Artificially retire them all with a 10 year ban.

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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Distasteful as it may be to the idealist within us all (and yes I include myself), this is how information is aquired. Informants get a reduction in sentence.

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Mendip James [38 posts] 3 years ago
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Don't disagree with longer sentencing at all, but I do think the past and present probably require different approaches. The past info can unlock current cases, and I guess specifically names, and that can be pretty useful information.

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TheHatter [770 posts] 3 years ago
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handlebarcam wrote:

...plus Tom Boonen has scored them plenty of UCI points at the spring classics, so they probably don't need his rather meager tally.

you mean convicted doper and ex US Postal Tom Boonen?

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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Latest in the Grauniad:
The IOC are discussing whether to strip Leipheimer of his Olympic bronze medal and award it to the fourth placed rider. Alberto Contador. Think I'll just let that one pass without comment.

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bikeandy61 [524 posts] 3 years ago
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Just cos you're prone to recreational drugs doesn't mean you'll fall fowl of the performance enhancing drugs nonsense. I mean, look at Jan Ullrich!  19 4

TBH - isn't Levi well passed his sell by date and has he ever really been that good. I sort of like him but to me he's always been "all show and no go".

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Lacticlegs [124 posts] 3 years ago
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This is a mistake. As far as I can tell most people on this site are grateful that the truth has come out and we are in a position to move onwards.

That could never have happened without the efforts and confessions of the people who have testified. A reduced ban for individuals who have taken that step seems only reasonable (not to mention essential!).

If the penalties levied on the whistle blowers are (or become) too punitive, then we've just given the biggest possible shot in the arm (pun intended) to the 'omerta' and inadvertently encouraged a repeat performance in the years to come.

Besides - come one, a little human understanding here. The reports and biographies and testimony and whatever else are all out there - we KNOW that the teams encouraged if not outright coerced riders to dope. We know that a great many people have doped, or been in some tangential way involved with it...for Quick Step to do this now smacks of PR protectionism and not a small amount of hypocrisy.

We need more whistle blowers not fewer - and this will only discourage them...I wonder if that's the intention?

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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And when will OPQS be sacking ex-doper Patrick Lefevre?

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Simon_MacMichael [2449 posts] 3 years ago
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Couple of things.

The World Anti Doping Code specifically provides for reduced sanctions where "substantial assistance" has been given. This isn't something that USADA has made up specifically for this case.

Secondly, the view the riders may have confessed to avoid others pointing the finger at them. I'm not sure about that.

I think ultimately the Novitzky investigation, while shelved, may have been pivotal here.

It's one thing lying to teams, anti-doping agencies, the press or a governing body.

Lying to a federal investigation under potential penalty of being imprisoned for perjury is on another scale altogether.

And once the riders had unburdened themselves to the Grand Jury probe, I imagine it made USADA's job much easier to get them to open up when it moved forward with its own investigation.

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pepita1 [175 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm in agreement with Lacticlegs post.

I wonder how the drug use will affect the riders overall health in the coming years? And the psychological effects could be devastating now that the whole world knows what went on during those years.

I feel sad that riders felt it so necessary to win that they resorted to harming their bodies and minds with PEDs, but it's something that society constructed. So, in a way, riders, coaches, sponsors, and fans are all responsible for the culture of doping.

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Glossies [29 posts] 3 years ago
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Opqs's behaviour although on the face of it seams reasonable, is exactly the sort of decision which perpetuates the omertà. Surly in the current situation a more forward thinking decision is required. If I was Cav, I'd tell opts to take their old fasioned attitudes and sling their hook, then knock on Vauters door!

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 3 years ago
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TheHatter wrote:

you mean convicted doper and ex US Postal Tom Boonen?

Convicted doper........Really?

Tom Boonen has only ever been convicted of taking cocaine, nothing else. Thats a banned substance and also illegal. But not used for doping  39

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AlanD [12 posts] 3 years ago
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OPQS don't want a doper, the sponsors don't want a doper, the team also don't want to pay someone for sitting out of racing for six months when they could be paying someone else to ride for them.

Who would?

No one came forward and volunteered the story, there was sackloads of evidence and with a federal investigation and threat of perjury hanging over that evidence (and those guys *knew* there was LOTS of evidence...) They had no choice.

I hate the fact that the 6 month ban deal was:

a) known (and lied about) during the tour
b) timed for the end of the season

I don't believe the additional evidence (over that given to the federal case) those riders gave to USADA was enough to justify a 6 month ban. I hope WADA reviews the cases individually and gives any that didn't offer significant new evidence a ban of either 2 or 4 years depending on their previous.

That is all.

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TheHatter [770 posts] 3 years ago
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Gkam84 wrote:
TheHatter wrote:

you mean convicted doper and ex US Postal Tom Boonen?

Convicted doper........Really?

Tom Boonen has only ever been convicted of taking cocaine, nothing else. Thats a banned substance and also illegal. But not used for doping  39

rather a moot point.

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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AlanD wrote:

OPQS don't want a doper, the sponsors don't want a doper...

So why is ex-doper Patrick Lefevre still running the team? What makes him so different to ex-doper Leipheimer? (Other than the fact that he didn't rat out Armstrong). And how do you know how much evidence was given to the Federal investigation as opposed to USADA? The Feds would not turn their evidence over, so even USADA don't know that.

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Ciaran Patrick [116 posts] 3 years ago
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I love the line
"for his co-operation with the USADA investigation and contribution to cleaning up the sport of cycling,"

Bollocks it was only done not to get a prison term and be able to find another team soon and only get 6 months suspension when everyone else gets 2 years.

I reckon most riders would say almost anything to avoid this and still be able to work. There are getting preferential treatment, just to say something that USADA wants to hear. That's not to say LA didn't dope but all this does not sit well in the way the USADA have gone a bout this.

The problem is who do you trust to fairly and transparently run the doping war. Certainly not the UCI and most definatly not independent bodies like the USADA who's aims I see are clouded and not set for the good of the sport or justice.

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Son of Crunch [12 posts] 3 years ago
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All proven drug users should be banned for life from the sport - with no exceptions in my book  39

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Argy [138 posts] 3 years ago
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Son of Crunch wrote:

All proven drug users should be banned for life from the sport - with no exceptions in my book  39

Agree 110%, that would send the right message out!  16

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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Argy wrote:
Son of Crunch wrote:

All proven drug users should be banned for life from the sport - with no exceptions in my book  39

Agree 110%, that would send the right message out!  16

The message being "Stick with the omerta, you have nothing to gain by being truthful."

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Lacticlegs [124 posts] 3 years ago
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Ciaran Patrick wrote:

I love the line
"for his co-operation with the USADA investigation and contribution to cleaning up the sport of cycling,"

Bollocks it was only done not to get a prison term and be able to find another team soon and only get 6 months suspension when everyone else gets 2 years.

I reckon most riders would say almost anything to avoid this and still be able to work. There are getting preferential treatment, just to say something that USADA wants to hear. That's not to say LA didn't dope but all this does not sit well in the way the USADA have gone a bout this.

The problem is who do you trust to fairly and transparently run the doping war. Certainly not the UCI and most definatly not independent bodies like the USADA who's aims I see are clouded and not set for the good of the sport or justice.

Ciaran, I'm curious - how do you feel USADA SHOULD have gone about it?

They have followed the age-old formula of getting wrong-doers to come clean about their fellow wrong-doers. Works for virtually every court case on organised crime – or for that matter any organisation/conspiracy/cabal or whatever else. On the one hand they are threatened with the maximum penalty for their actions, and on the other that penalty is reduced if they give information that allows the ‘law’ to widen the net and catch more cheaters. It’s about the most effective tool we have – why on earth would anyone be against using it?

I don’t understand the anti-USADA sentiment? Who do you trust to be fair and transparent in the doping war? ‘Definitely not’ USADA? Why on earth not? For over a decade we have been listening to constant lies and denials and – as we now know - watching a cheat make a sham out of the TdF. Everyone and their dog has tried to nail down the truth, from journalists to governments to anti-doping bodies and numerous early whistle-blowers – no one managed it. USADA did. (Granted it would not have been possible without all those earlier efforts) The ONLY success story to break through the wall of lawyers and denials and defamation suits comes from them…but you feel their aims are clouded, and not good for justice or the sport?

Justice – the cheat got caught
Sport – the cheat got caught

How is that not the best possible outcome for either justice or sport?

When you say that USADA ‘wants to hear’ what the whistle blowers have to say, you seem to imply that this is a bad thing? They are a body whose remit is to catch dopers and try to prevent doping. Of COURSE they want to hear from them. The question is – why don’t you?

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Lacticlegs [124 posts] 3 years ago
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The Rumpo Kid wrote:
Argy wrote:
Son of Crunch wrote:

All proven drug users should be banned for life from the sport - with no exceptions in my book  39

Agree 110%, that would send the right message out!  16

The message being "Stick with the omerta, you have nothing to gain by being truthful."

Exactly!

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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Very funny  20

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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Here! here! Well written Lacticlegs I think Ciaran is misguided. I accept the fact we all make mistakes to err is human. There is a punishment dealt out by society we deal with it. These rules were made by us and our elected representatives. If the situation is not working we voice our opinion and get rid of them. After all we are a democracy and vote with our cheque books. No where in the rule book suggests we have to put up with this shit. USADA came out with a reasoned statement and after reading most of the dossier. It was reasonable.  39