Doping Agency Blasts Lance Armstrong in a Scorcher
AUSTIN (CN) - More than 1,000 pages of evidences show "beyond any doubt" that Lance Armstrong won seven Tours de France with help from the most sophisticated doping program in the sports history, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Wednesday.
"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," the USADA said in its statement.
CEO Travis T. Tygart said that the agency is submitting a "reasoned decision" and the evidence to the Union Cycliste International, the World Anti-Doping Agency, and the World Triathlon Corp.
As the governing body for cycling, the UCI had requested such a report from the U.S. agency in August. The UCI has yet to enforce a ban on Armstrong. Armstrong has competed in triathlons since he retired from cycling in 2011.
The USADA stripped Armstrong of all his cycling victories, including seven Tour de France titles, and banned him from professional cycling for life after he refused to fight doping charges in arbitration.
Armstrong sued the agency in July, claiming his due process rights were violated, but U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks dismissed the suit one month later.
Tygard said the "overwhelming" evidence includes sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 cyclists with knowledge of the team and its doping activities.
"The evidence also includes direct documentary evidence including financial payments, emails, scientific data and laboratory test results that further prove the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong and confirm the disappointing truth about the deceptive activities of the USPS Team, a team that received tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars in funding," Tygard said. "Together these 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."
Tygard commended the courage of the cyclists who came forward. He said that "in making the choice to stop perpetuating the sporting fraud ... they have suffered greatly."
He named 11 Armstrong teammates: Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.
"In addition to the public revelations, the active riders have been suspended and disqualified appropriately, in line with the rules," Tygard said. "I have personally talked with and heard these athletes' stories and firmly believe that, collectively, these athletes, if forgiven and embraced, have a chance to leave a legacy far greater for the good of the sport than anything they ever did on a bike.
"Lance Armstrong was given the same opportunity to come forward and be part of the solution. He rejected it."
After Judge Sparks' dismissed of his lawsuit, Armstrong posted on his website: "There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough.' For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999. Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart's unconstitutional witch hunt. The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today - finished with this nonsense."
In his 30-page order, Sparks concluded that the agency did not violate Armstrong's due process rights.
Sparks wrote that even if he had jurisdiction over Armstrong's remaining claims, they would be best resolved through international arbitration, by those with expertise in the field, rather than by the courts.
With Sparks' dismissal, Armstrong had three choices - appeal to the 5th Circuit, fight the charges in arbitration, or quit and face punishment.
"I had hoped that a federal court would stop USADA's charade," Armstrong said. "Although the court was sympathetic to my concerns and recognized the many improprieties and deficiencies in USADA's motives, its conduct, and its process, the court ultimately decided that it could not intervene.
"If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA's process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and - once and for all - put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance. But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair."