Monday 23 April 2018

How was it discovered?

It was in November 2008 that the US Anti-Doping Agency opened a hearing against a low-key Californian professional cyclist called Kayle Leogrande. It did not involve a positive test, rather an admission and despite Leogrande then denying the charge, he was banned for two years.

It was to prove the first loose, and distant, thread that has finally and dramatically unravelled Lance Armstrong's defence this week.

At the start of 2009, Usada received information about how Leogrande might have been supplied with EPO. The inquiry began to broaden into drug use and distribution in southern California.

The report states: "Usada came to understand that Floyd Landis might have information useful to this effort."

The agency were contacted by Paul Scott, described only as an "individual residing in southern California," and in April 2010 Scott "described in great detail the doping program on the US Postal Service team."

Scott named Armstrong, Michele Ferrari, Johan Bruyneel and others, including Landis, as having been involved. How Scott knew is not clear.

A week later Usada officials met Landis and the rider agreed to co-operate, only for US authorities in California to open a grand jury investigation into the US Postal team in early 2010, which meant the doping agency put their inquiries on ice.

When this later inquiry was shelved, Usada resumed its own case -- the 1,000 pages of evidence do not include anything gathered by the grand jury.

In March this year, interviews began with riders from the team -- in all, 11 former team-mates were to testify against Armstrong.

The net was closing.

Armstrong continued -- as he still does -- to deny all allegations that he had doped, but on June 12 he was informed that Usada were opening proceedings against him, Bruyneel, two former team doctors in Luis del Moral and Pedro Celaya, Jose Marti, a team trainer, and Ferrari.

In July, Armstrong made one last bid to fight off the charges, but a complaint to a federal court was dismissed.

At last, on August 23, he announced he would not contest the charges.

It was over.

Irish Independent

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