| 7°C Dublin

Armstrong shown as ringleader

LANCE ARMSTRONG'S legacy as cancer survivor turned seven-time winner of the Tour de France is in ruins as he was accused of drug taking on a massive scale and being the ringleader of the most sophisticated doping conspiracy in sporting history.

THE United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) charged him with six offences covering the use of banned substances, the trafficking of drugs, the administration of drugs to team-mates and aiding and abetting a massive cover-up between 1998 and 2005, a period when he dominated the world’s most famous race.

Dave Brailsford, British Cycling’s performance director, who was key to Bradley Wiggins becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France this year, said he was stunned to read USADA’s findings.

“It is shocking, it’s jaw dropping and it is very unpleasant.”

A total of 26 witnesses, including 11 fellow riders from the United States Postal Service team, testified to USADA against Armstrong in a doping case the agency described as “more extensive than any previously revealed in professional sports history”.

The dossier has been sent to the International Cycling Union which now has 21 days to challenge its findings and appeal to the World Anti-Doping Agency or comply with the decision to strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles.

In a statement last night, UCI said it would examine the evidence and “provide a timely response”.

USADA released the findings of a two-year investigation yesterday, accusing Armstrong of using a cocktail of banned substances and blood transfusions.

They built up a picture of an elaborate doping ring which alleged the involvement of support staff, |fellow riders and even his former wife.

The doping programme was the brainchild of disgraced Italian doctor, Michele Ferrari, and saw Armstrong travel across Europe during and before races to have blood transfusions.

The report also accused Armstrong of administering testosterone to a |team-mate, threatening fellow riders with the sack if they did not follow Dr Ferrari’s EPO programme and of surrounding himself with drug runners “so that he could achieve his goal of winning the Tour de France year after year”.

Witch-hunt

A spokesman for Armstrong accused USADA of conducting a witch-hunt.

“Ignoring the 500-600 tests Lance Armstrong passed, ignoring all exculpatory evidence, and trying to justify the millions of dollars USADA has spent pursuing one, single athlete for years, USADA has continued its government-funded witch-hunt of only Mr Armstrong, a retired cyclist, in violation of its own rules and due process.”

Witnesses revealed how Armstrong would receive blood transfusions in the team doctor’s hotel room during races.

When police in France tightened up security, Armstrong employed a drug smuggler called ‘Motoman’ to deliver EPO to rendezvous points on the 1999 Tour de France route.

“Lance Armstrong and his handlers engaged in a massive and long-running scheme to use drugs, cover their tracks, intimidate witnesses, tarnish reputations, lie to hearing panels and the press and do whatever was necessary to conceal the truth,” said the report.

In September, after losing a legal suit challenging USADA’s jurisdiction, Armstrong decided not to contest their case and was stripped of his seven Tour de France victories.

The report lays bare his relationship with Dr Ferrari and includes records of payments by Armstrong of more than $1million to the doctor.

Damning testimony was provided by some of the leading cyclists of the 1990s and 2000s, some who owned up to USADA for the first time about their own drug taking.

The most personally damaging aspect for Armstrong was the testimony provided by George Hincapie, who was alongside him for his seven tour victories, and also never failed a drug test in his career.

Jonathan Vaughters testified he saw Armstrong inject himself with EPO at the 1998 Vuelta a España while Floyd Landis corroborated the story that Armstrong failed a dope test at the Tour of Switzerland in 2001.

Landis told the team manager and Armstrong “flew to the UCI headquarters and made a financial agreement to keep the positive test hidden”.


Privacy