Racing News

Lance Armstrong led ‘most sophisticated doping programme ever’

Lance Armstrong led the “most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen” according to a damning report released by the US Anti-Doping Agency.

The Reasoned Decision dossier, sent to the UCI, includes details of 26 witnesses, including 11 former team-mates from the United States Postal Service squad, who testified to USADA against Armstrong.

The UCI now has 21 days to challenge USADA’s findings and appeal to the World Anti-Doping Agency or comply with the decision to strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles.

“His goal [of winning the Tour de France] led him to depend on EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions but also, more ruthlessly, to expect and to require that his team-mates would likewise use drugs to support his goals if not their own,” concluded the report.

“It was not enough that his team-mates give maximum effort on the bike, he also required that they adhere to the doping programme outlined for them or be replaced.”

The report has left Armstrong’s reputation in tatters. The Texan won the Tour de France seven times in a row from 1999 and 2005 but has now been labelled a “serial cheat” by USADA.

The report also alleges that Armstrong made more than $1 million (£625,000) in payments to a Swiss bank account controlled by Dr Michele Ferrari, who has consistently been linked to doping.

Armstrong has always denied the allegations against him and his lawyers called the 1,000 page dossier a “one-sided hatchet job, a taxpayer-funded tabloid piece rehashing old, disproved, unreliable allegations based largely on axe-grinders, serial perjurers, coerced testimony, sweetheart deals and threat-induced stories.”

The most damning testimony came from George Hincapie, considered a close friend of Armstrong’s and a former team-mate who helped the 41-year-old to his seven Tour de France victories.

“Given the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete without them,” said Hincapie.

The 39-year-old, who said he has not used performance enhancing drugs his 2006, added: “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.”

Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie are the other former team-mates to have testified against Armstrong.

Hincapie and Barry recently retired after ending their careers with BMC Racing and Team Sky respectively. The four active riders – Vande Velde, Danielson, and Zabriskie, who all ride for Garmin-Sharp and Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s Leipheimer – have been handed six-month bans which will see them racing again next spring.

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