Armstrong's team-mates reveal former champion was involved in 'the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme in sport'
17:01 GMT, 10 October 2012
Lance Armstrong's US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team 'ran the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen', the United States Anti-Doping Agency said.
USADA chief executive Travis T Tygart said in a statement that there was 'conclusive and undeniable proof' of a team-run doping conspiracy.
Eleven of Armstrong's former team-mates testified against him, Tygart said.
Shamed: Lance Armstrong was stripped of his Tour de France titles
USADA are sending their 'reasoned decision' in the Armstrong case to the International Cycling Union, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the World Triathlon Corporation.
This will be the explanation for their decision to strip the retired cyclist, who now competes in triathlons, of his seven Tour de France titles and hand him a lifetime ban.
The evidence, Tygart said, was 'overwhelming' and 'in excess over 1000 pages'.
'The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.'
Disgraced: Armstrong's career achievements have been tarnished
He said it contains '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'.
Tygart also claimed the team's 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
Twenty-six people in total, he said, gave sworn testimony.
End of the road: Armstrong has been accused of being involved in a sophisticated doping programme
Among the former team-mates who did so were Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis.
The other team-mates who gave evidence against Armstrong were Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.
Tygart praised those riders involved in the 'doping conspiracy' for having 'tremendous courage' to come forward and 'stop perpetuating the sporting fraud'.
He said: '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.
Testifying: Armstrong's former team-mates Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton
'Instead he exercised his legal right
not to contest the evidence and knowingly accepted the imposition of a
ban from recognised competition for life and disqualification of his
competitive results from 1998 forward.'
The USADA chief also called on the
International Cycling Union (UCI) to 'act on its own recent suggestion
for a meaningful Truth and Reconciliation programme'.
He said such a scheme might be the only way the sport can 'unshackle itself from the past'.
Tested: Lance Armstrong walks out of the doping control center during the 2002 Tour De France
Tygart added: '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.'
USADA confirmed two other members of
the USPS team, Dr Michele Ferrari and Dr Garcia del Moral, also received
lifetime bans for their part in the doping conspiracy.
Three further members, team director
Johan Bruyneel, a team doctor Dr Pedro Celaya and team trainer Jose
Marti have chosen to contest the charges and take their cases to
FULL STATEMENT FROM USADA
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 programme that sport has ever seen.
The evidence of the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team-run scheme is overwhelming and is in excess of 1,000 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 professionalised 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 programme organised 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 programme. While we appreciate the arguments that weigh in favour 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) team-mates 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 recognised 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.'
LANCE ARMSTRONG FACTFILE
1971: Born September 18, in Dallas.
1991: Signs with Subaru-Montgomery and becomes US national amateur champion.
1993: Crowned US national champion. Wins first stage in Tour de France but fails to finish. Beats Miguel Indurain to win world championship.
1994: Wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege spring classic.
1996: October 2 – Diagnosed with testicular cancer. The disease later spreads through his whole body. Founds Lance Armstrong Foundation for Cancer.
1997: Declared cancer-free after brain surgery and chemotherapy. Signs with US Postal Service team after being dropped by Cofidis.
1998: Wins Tours of Holland and Luxembourg.
1999: Claims first Tour de France title, winning four stages.
2000: Wins second Tour. Secures time-trial bronze in Sydney Olympics.
2001: Victorious in Tour of Switzerland.
July 29: Becomes only the fifth rider to win three Tour de France titles in a row.
2002: Wins Dauphine Libere and Midi Libre.
July 28: Becomes only the fourth person to win four successive Tour de France titles.
2003: Equals the record of five victories in the Tour de France, but is pushed to his limit by German Jan Ullrich, who finishes just 61 seconds off the pace.
2004: July 25 – Clinches record sixth Tour de France victory.
2005: July 24 – Wins his seventh Tour de France, two more than anyone else, before retiring.
September 6 – Claims he is considering coming out of retirement after being angered by drug allegations against him.
2008: September 9 – Announces he will return to professional cycling and will attempt to win his eighth Tour de France in 2009.
2009: March 23 – Suffers a broken right collarbone when he crashes out on stage one of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon in Spain.
May – Appears in first Giro d'Italia, finishing 12th. Tour is somewhat marred by financial cloud over Armstrong's Astana team and the American is linked to a takeover.
June – Astana's financial issues are resolved and Armstrong is named in the Tour de France team, but with 2007 champion Alberto Contador of Spain as leader.
July – Contador and Armstrong endure a fractious relationship. Contador claims a second Tour title, while Armstrong finishes third. Armstrong announces he will launch his own squad in 2010, Team Radio Shack.
2010: January – Team Radio Shack make their debut at the Tour Down Under in Australia. Armstrong finishes 25th overall.
May – Armstrong's former US Postal team-mate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping, launches allegations at the Texan.
June 28 – Announces that the 2010 Tour de France will be his last.
July – Finishes final Tour in 23rd place, 39 minutes and 20 seconds behind winner Contador.
2011: February 16 – Announces retirement for second time.
May – Forced to deny claims made by former team-mate Tyler Hamilton that they took performance-enhancing drugs together.
2012: February 4 – An investigation into alleged doping by Armstrong is dropped by federal prosecutors in California.
June 13 – The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) confirm they have initiated legal proceedings over allegations of doping against Armstrong.
June 30 – The USADA confirm they will file formal doping charges against Armstrong.
July 9 – Armstrong files a lawsuit in a US federal court asking for a temporary restraining order against the agency. Armstrong also claims the USADA offered “corrupt inducements” to other cyclists to testify against him.
July 11 – Armstrong refiles lawsuit against the USADA after initial lawsuit was dismissed by a judge as being a “lengthy and bitter polemic”, designed to attract media attention and public sympathy.
August 20 – Armstrong's legal action against the USADA dismissed in court.
August 24 – Armstrong announces he will not fight the doping charges filed against him by the USADA, saying in a statement he is “finished with this nonsense” and insisting he is innocent. He is stripped of all his titles banned for life from cycling by USADA.
October 10 – USADA claim 11 of Armstrong's former team-mates have testified against him. The organisation say the US Postal Service team “ran the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”, with “conclusive and undeniable proof” of a team-run doping conspiracy.