Two doctors and a trainer associated with the now defunct US Postal Service cycling team led by Lance Armstrong in the late 1990s and early 2000s have been banned for life from involvement in sport.
Dr Luis Garcia del Moral, a team doctor, Dr Michele Ferrari, who acted as a consultant doctor to the team, and trainer Jose “Pepe” Marti, have been handed “lifetime periods of ineligibility” by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
Travis T Tygart, the CEO of USADA, said his agency’s investigation into cycling had been to protect clean athletes by ridding the sport of those who “abuse their influence by encouraging, coercing or assisting athletes in cheating through the use of dangerous performance-enhancing drugs.”
“When USADA has information about the existence of a sophisticated, far-reaching doping conspiracy, it is our duty under the established rules to conduct a thorough, fair investigation to uncover the truth,” he said.
“Permanently banning these individuals from sport is a powerful statement that protects the current and next generation of athletes from their influence, and preserves the integrity of future competition.”
The trio were banned after USADA found them guilty of charges relating to possession, trafficking, administration and complicity in the use of “EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, hGH, corticosteroids and masking agents”.
Other respondents in the case brought by USADA include seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, and former USPS team manager, Johaan Bruyneel.
Both strenuously deny the charges.
A USADA spokesman said: “The other respondents in this case have either asked for and been granted a five-day extension to complete their response, or have requested to move forward with an arbitration hearing where all evidence will be presented, witness testimony will be given under oath, and an independent group of arbitrators will ultimately decide the outcome of the case.”
Del Moral worked as team physician for the Armstrong-led squad from 1999 to 2003. USADA said they had evidence that after 2003 he had assisted cyclists, including former USPS members, with blood transfusions.
“The evidence in Dr del Moral’s case demonstrated that from 2000 he was intimately involved in the prohibited method of blood transfusions which cyclists use to boost the number of circulating red blood cells to increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and increase endurance,” USADA said in a statement.
The Agency said Dr Ferrari had given USPS team riders a mixture of testosterone and olive oil.
“Dr Ferrari developed a distinctive mixture of testosterone and olive oil to be administered under the tongue to assist in recovery during races and training. This mixture was known among team members as the “oil.”
“Dr Ferrari also advised riders on the use of the banned oxygen enhancer erythropoietin (“EPO”) with detailed instructions regarding clearance times, how the EPO drug test worked and how to avoid detection of the drug.
“Dr Ferrari specifically advised riders to inject EPO intravenously in order to avoid the drug showing up in a urine drug test. Dr. Ferrari was present and assisted during instances of prohibited blood doping and EPO use by USPS team members. Dr. Ferrari developed detailed training schedules for riders which included coded symbols designating when EPO should be used and the amount of the drug to inject,” the statement said.
USPS trainer, Jose Marti, had worked for USPS and its successor Discovery Channel team from 1999 to 2007, before joining the Astana Cycling Team.
“Mr Martí delivered performance-enhancing drugs, including EPO, testosterone, human growth hormone (hGH) and cortisone from Valencia, Spain to locations where the riders were living in Europe including Nice, France and Girona, Spain and at training camps and cycling races.
“Mr Martí was also involved in assisting with injections of EPO, saline infusions for avoiding detection by drug testing and in transfusing blood to riders,” the statement said.
USADA said their ruling would be enforced by other signatories to the Code of the World Anti-Doping Agency.