Agency: Armstrong led doping program

Lance Armstrong was stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles earlier this year. MICHAEL PAULSEN / Houston Chronicle
Lance Armstrong was stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles earlier this year. MICHAEL PAULSEN / Houston Chronicle

The USADA named 11 ex-teammates as witnesses in its lengthy case against the champion cyclist.

Posted: October 12, 2012

Lance Armstrong challenged the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to name names and show what it had on him.

On Wednesday, it did.

The anti-doping group released a report on its case against Armstrong - a point-by-point roadmap of the lengths it says Armstrong went to in winning seven Tour de France titles that the USADA has ordered taken away.

In more than 150 pages filled with allegations, the USADA names 11 former teammates - George Hincapie, Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis, a Lancaster County native, among them - as key witnesses.

It details the way those men and others say drugs were delivered and administered to Armstrong's teams. It discusses Armstrong's continuing relationship with and payments to a doctor, Michele Ferrari, years after Ferrari was sanctioned in Italy and Armstrong claimed to have broken ties

with him.

It presents as matter-of-fact reality that winning and doping went hand in hand in cycling and that Armstrong's teams were the best at getting it done without getting caught. He won the Tour as leader of the U.S. Postal Service team from 1999 to 2004 and again in 2005 with the Discovery Channel as the primary sponsor.

The report also uses Armstrong's own words against him.

"We had one goal and one ambition and that was to win the greatest bike race in the world and not just to win it once, but to keep winning it," the report reads, quoting from testimony Armstrong gave in an earlier legal proceeding.

But, the USADA said, the path Armstrong chose to pursue his goals "ran far outside the rules." It accuses him of depending on performance-enhancing drugs to fuel his victories and "more ruthlessly, to expect and to require that his teammates" do the same.

Armstrong did not fight the USADA charges, but insists he never cheated.

His attorney, Tim Herman, called the report "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."

Aware of the criticism his agency has faced from Armstrong and his legion of followers, USADA chief executive Travis Tygart insisted his group handled this case under the same rules as any other. He pointed out that Armstrong was given the chance to take his case to arbitration and he declined, choosing in August to accept the sanctions instead.

"We focused solely on finding the truth without being influenced by celebrity or non-celebrity, threats, personal attacks, or political pressure because that is what clean athletes deserve and demand," Tygart said.

Some of the newest information - never spelled out in detail before Wednesday - includes the USADA's depiction of Armstrong's continuing relationship with Ferrari. Like Armstrong, he has received a lifetime ban from the USADA.

Ferrari, long thought of as the mastermind of Armstrong's alleged doping plan, was investigated in Italy, and Armstrong claimed he had cut ties with him after a 2004 conviction. The USADA cites financial records that show payments of at least $210,000 in the two years after that.

"The repeated efforts by Armstrong and his representatives to mischaracterize and minimize Armstrong's relationship with Ferrari are indicative of the true nature of that relationship," the report states. "If there is not something to hide, there is no need to hide it and certainly no need to repeatedly lie about it."

In some ways, the USADA report simply pulls together and amplifies allegations that have followed Armstrong ever since he beat cancer and won the Tour for the first time. At various times and in different forums, Landis, Hamilton, and others have said that Armstrong encouraged doping on his team and used banned substances himself.

While the arguments about Armstrong will continue among sports fans - and there is still a question of whether the USADA or the International Cycling Union (UCI) has ultimate control of taking away his Tour titles - the new report puts a cap on a long round of official investigations.

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