The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on Wednesday said it is releasing its evidence against Lance Armstrong – a dossier of more than 1,000 pages with sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 cyclists with knowledge of Armstrong's doping activities on the U.S. Postal Service Cycling team.
The evidence includes testimony from cyclist George Hincapie, a longtime close associate of Armstrong's who on Wednesday admitted his role in the doping conspiracy and said he told investigators what he knew about others.
"I would have been much more comfortable talking only about myself, but understood that I was obligated to tell the truth about everything I knew. So that is what I did," Hincapie's statement said.
In a statement, USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said, "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."
For those who are interested, the full document from the USADA can be viewed here. But it seems that the USADA's case is very, very strong. That may be why Armstrong decided not to defend himself against the allegations, and instead try to declare himself innocent in the Court of Public Opinion.
We would normally leave a cycling story to James Stephenson. But we are just over halfway through reading Tyler Hamilton's biography The Secret Race on our iPad, and we have very little doubt the US Postal engaged in a systematic doping and transfusion programme, as did their competition. The story that Tyler Hamilton tells is too vivid, informative and detailed to have been manufactured merely to sell a book. And Hamilton has nothing to gain; he was banned from the sport for his doping violations.
The revelation today that George Hincapie has also given testimony against Armstrong will be especially damaging. He was a close lieutenant to the multiple TdF winner:
Hincapie's statement acknowledged that he had cheated.
"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," Hincapie wrote.
It is incomprehensible that US Postal riders doped, but that Armstrong did not, and that he won seven TdF titles without pharmceutical assistance. Everything that happened within US Postal involved Armstrong; he was the team leader, the senior rider and the kingpin. US Postal's sole aim was to propel Lance Armstrong to victory in the races he rode.
We'd love to believe that Lance Armstrong beat cancer, and won seven Tours de France without resorting to doping. But the evidence against him is overwhelming, and his refusal to confront that evidence and the allegations of his peers is damning.
UPDATE: Here is an extract from the Executive Summary of the USADA's Reasoned Decision:
SUMMARY OF USADA’S REASONED DECISION
As most observers of cycling acknowledge, cycling in the grand tours, of which the Tour de France is the most important, is a team sport. Lance Armstrong winning seven consecutive Tour de France titles was touted not just asan individual achievement, but as a team achievement rivaling the greatest inprofessional sports history.
Lance Armstrong himself has said that the story of his team is about how it “evolved from . . . the Bad News Bears into the New York Yankees.”
However, as demonstrated in this Reasoned Decision, the achievements of the USPS/Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, including those of Lance Armstrong as its leader, were accomplished through a massive team doping scheme, more extensive than any previously revealed in professional sports history.
More than a dozen of Armstrong’s teammates, friends and former team employees confirm a fraudulent course of conduct that extended over a decade and leave no doubt that Mr. Armstrong’s career on the USPS/Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team was fueled from start to finish by doping.
In this Reasoned Decision we discuss the evidence in significant detail, just as an arbitration panel would have done in announcing its decision had Mr. Armstrong been willing to allow the evidence in his case to be heard by independent arbitrators. It is important that the evidence in this case be discussed in detail for several reasons. First, transparency is a fundamental value of the anti-doping movement. Itis important that facts relating to doping not be hidden from public view so thatthere is confidence in case outcomes and sport can learn from each case. Thus, the rules require USADA to issue a “reasoned decision” and this document meets that requirement. Second, over the years Mr. Armstrong and his representatives went to great lengths to attack individuals who were willing to confirm the truth of his doping.
Hopefully, this objective examination of some of the evidence of Mr. Armstrong’s doping and tactics may rectify some of the harms to reputation brought about by those attacks.
As discussed in this Reasoned Decision, Mr. Armstrong did not act alone. He acted with the help of a small army of enablers, including doping doctors, drug smugglers, and others within and outside the sport and on his team. However, the evidence is also clear that Armstrong had ultimate control over not only his own personal drug use, which was extensive, but also over the doping culture of his team. Final responsibility for decisions to hire and retain a director, doctors and other staff committed to running a team-wide doping program ultimately flowed to him.
On paper, Armstrong’s team contract provided him with “extensive input into rider and staff composition.” In practice, however, as a team owner and by virtue of the power his rapidly accumulating titles conferred, his effective control was even greater.
Armstrong said, “we had one goal and one ambition and that was to win the greatest bike race in the world and not just to win it once, but to keep winning it.”
However, the path he chose to pursue that goal ran far outside the rules. His goal led him to depend on EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions but also, more ruthlessly, to expect and to require that his teammates would likewise use drugs to support his goals if not their own.
The evidence is overwhelming that Lance Armstrong did not just use performance enhancing drugs, he supplied them to his teammates. He did not merely go alone to Dr. Michele Ferrari for doping advice, he expected that others would follow. It was not enough that his teammates give maximum effort on the bike, he also required that they adhere to the doping
program outlined for them or be replaced. He was not just a part of the doping culture on his team, he enforced and re-enforced it. Armstrong’s use of drugs was extensive, and the doping program on his team, designed in large part to benefit Armstrong, was massive and pervasive.