Evidence points to Armstrong guilt without positive test
A US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) report on doping by Lance Armstrong released on Wednesday details evidence against the US cycling star that shows guilt despite his lack of a positive doping test.
USADA delivered the report to the International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Wednesday and made it public, showing the evidence that prompted USADA to issue a life ban against Armstrong in August.
Armstrong, who maintains he did nothing wrong, declined to contest USADA’s charges against him after losing a legal challenge to USADA’s arbitration hearing system, saying he was the target of a witch hunt and was tired after facing years of facing doping allegations.
USADA chief executive Travis T. Tygart said Armstrong was at the heart of the most elaborate doping scheme in sport history, one in which he pressured teammates to take performance-enhancing drugs and keep silent about it.
“The evidence of the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team-run scheme is overwhelming,” 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.”
That includes testimony from 26 people, 15 of them with knowledge of US Postal riders and doping activities, including George Hincapie, who admitted in a statement Wednesday that he took performance-enhancing drugs.
“It’s extremely difficult today to acknowledge that during a part of my career I used banned substances,” he said.
“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.”
Other former Armstrong teammates who testified include Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.
“Different categories of eyewitness, documentary, first-hand, scientific, direct and circumstantial evidence reveal conclusive and undeniable proof that brings to the light of day for the first time this systemic, sustained and highly professionalized team-run doping conspiracy,” Tygart said.
Clandestine meetings, late-night doping deliveries and interlinked testimony from eyewitnesses plays heavily into USADA’s reconstruction of years of systemic doping plans.
“So ends one of the more sordid chapters in sports history,” the report said.
Among the evidence cited by USADA:
— US Postal Service team riders used EPO, testosterone, human growth hormone and cortisone, according to riders George Hincapie, Tyler Hamilton, Frankie Andreu and Jonathan Vaughters and team employee Emma O’Reilly
— Armstrong required O’Reilly to dispose of syringes after the 1998 Tour of the Netherlands
— Hincapie and Hamilton testified they were aware of Armstrong’s EPO use as early as 1998, Vaughters confirmed Armstrong used in the Tour of Spain and said he saw Armstrong inject himself with EPO in a hotel room
— Vaughters and Christian Van de Velde saw a doctor bring saline to Armstrong to help him avoid doping detection
— Hamilton testified he saw Armstrong take EPO during the 1999 Tour de France, having blood removed before the 2000 Tour and receiving a transfusion during the 2000 Tour
— Armstrong met with physician Michele Ferrari regarding doping in 1999 near Milan, according to Andreu’s wife Betsy.
— Armstrong offered Hamilton a vial of EPO from a refrigerator at his villa in Nice, France, in May, 1999. Hincapie also testified to being aware of 1999 EPO use by Armstrong
— Hamilton and Kevin Livingston were Tour de France roommates in 1999 so Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel could visit them and speak openly about doping
— O’Reilly testified team officials fabricated a story to explain why Armstrong tested positive for cortisone, including a backdated prescription for a cortisone cream to treat a saddle sore when he really had taken a cortisone injection
— Hamilton said he witnessed Armstrong use EPO during the 1999 Tour every three or four days
— retesting of Armstrong samples from the 1999 Tour found EPO traces in six samples
— Hamilton said new EPO tests for the 2000 Tour required a switch to blood doping for himself and Armstrong, with samples taken in Valencia, Spain
— Hincapie said in 2000 Armstrong admitted taking testosterone and that Armstrong dropped out of a race after Hincapie notified him drug testing officials were at the team hotel
— Hamilton said he was with Armstrong when they received blood transfusions at a hotel on July 11, 2000
— Hincapie said conversations with Armstrong made it clear Armstrong used blood transfusions from 2001 through 2005
— Armstrong sent Hamilton EPO by mail in 2001, Hamilton testified
— Hamilton said he recalled Dr. Ferrari telling Armstrong he could stay on EPO in 2001 if he used tiny doses and slept in an altitude tent that would boost natural EPO production
— Hamilton and Floyd Landis said Armstrong said had made a positive EPO test at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland and made a payoff to the UCI to make the test disappear. A testing doctor told USADA Armstrong had a positive test at the race
— Hamilton testified he saw Armstrong use testosterone patches and Landis said Armstrong gave him some in 2002
— Landis saw reinfusion of blood into Armstrong the night before the time trial at the 2002 Tour de France
— Van de Velde said Armstrong told him he must follow Ferrari’s doping plan to stay on the team
— Landis said Armstrong asked him to watch refrigerated bags of his blood in 2003 and watched blood extracted from and reinfused to Armstrong. He also said he saw Armstrong use EPO to help mask the transfusions.
— Landis said Armstrong gave him a box of EPO syringes in 2003
— Landis said he saw Armstrong receive blood transfusions and EPO twice at the 2004 Tour de France. Leipheimer and David Zabriske said Landis told them of the incident in 2004 and 2005
— 2004 Tour rider Filippo Simeoni said Armstrong told him during a breakaway that he made a mistake when he testified against Ferrari and sued Armstrong, saying, “I have a lot of time and money and I can destroy you.”
— Hincapie said he saw Armstrong blood doping at the 2005 Tour de France and that Armstrong administered EPO to Hincapie that year before the race
— Hincapie said Bruyneel wanted him to do a sweep of Armstrong’s apartment after the 2005 Tour to be certain no doping-related materials were there
— Expert examination of Armstrong’s blood from the 2009 and 2010 Tour shows the odds of such a composition with lower red blood cell count compared to earlier blood samples being natural were less than one in a million.