The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on Wednesday released details of the Lance Armstrong case file it plans to transfer to the UCI on the same day. USADA CEO Travis Tygart detailed the evidence his agency relied upon in banning the former world champion for life in August, including testimony from George Hincapie and 10 other U.S. Postal Service riders and “scientific data and laboratory tests.”
The full case file that USADA officials handed over to the UCI on Wednesday totals more than 1,000 pages and, according to Tygart, includes “sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the U.S. Postal Service Team and its participants’ 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.”
Armstrong’s representatives did not immediately return a request for comment.
USADA for the first time made public the 11 U.S. Postal riders that provided testimony in the investigation. Those riders are: Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie. Tygart confirmed that each of the active riders had been suspended and called on the UCI to pursue a truth and reconciliation program for riders willing to come forward with information regarding their previous doping activities.
“It took tremendous courage for the riders on the USPS Team and others to come forward and speak truthfully,” Tygart wrote in a press release. “It is not easy to admit your mistakes and accept your punishment. But that is what these riders have done for the good of the sport, and for the young riders who hope to one day reach their dreams without using dangerous drugs or methods.
“The riders who participated in the USPS Team doping conspiracy and truthfully assisted have been courageous in making the choice to stop perpetuating the sporting fraud, and they have suffered greatly. In addition to the public revelations, the active riders have been suspended and disqualified appropriately in line with the rules. In some part, it would have been easier for them if it all would just go away; however, they love the sport, and they want to help young athletes have hope that they are not put in the position they were — to face the reality that in order to climb to the heights of their sport they had to sink to the depths of dangerous cheating.”
Hincapie was the first rider to issue a statement on Wednesday, expressing regret and confirming that he had provided testimony to federal investigators and USADA regarding his and others’ use of performance enhancing drugs.
“Because of my love for the sport, the contributions I feel I have made to it, and the amount the sport of cycling has given to me over the years, it is extremely difficult today to acknowledge that during a part of my career I used banned substances. 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. I deeply regret that choice and sincerely apologize to my family, teammates and fans,” Hincapie wrote in the statement. “Two years ago, I was approached by U.S. federal investigators, and more recently by USADA, and asked to tell of my personal experience in these matters. I would have been much more comfortable talking only about myself, but understood that I was obligated to tell the truth about everything I knew. So that is what I did.”
When contacted by VeloNews Wednesday morning, UCI president Pat McQuaid said that the UCI had not yet received the case file from USADA. When the governing body does receive the body of “reasoned decision,” it can either enforce the recommended suspension and results nullification from USADA or appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
[Updated: The UCI on Wednesday afternoon issued a press release acknowledging that it had received notification of the "Reasoned Decision" from USADA and would "endeavour to provide a timely response and not to delay matters any longer than necessary." —Ed.]
USA Cycling technical director Shawn Farrell told VeloNews in mid-September that each of the active American riders involved in the investigation was eligible to race. When asked again on Wednesday about the suspensions, Farrell replied that he was unaware of any changes to the license status of Danielson, Leipheimer, Vande Velde or Zabriskie.
USADA officials informed Armstrong of its case against him and five others in a June 12 letter leaked to The Washington Post. According to the agency, Armstrong, former team manager Johan Bruyneel, doctors Michele Ferrari, Pedro Celaya and Luis Garcia del Moral, and trainer Jose Pepi Marti enacted a wide-ranging doping conspiracy dating back to August 1998.
USADA accused Armstrong of using prohibited substances, possessing banned drugs and equipment, such as needles and blood bags, and trafficking EPO and other drugs. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency also claimed Armstrong assisted and encouraged other riders to use performance enhancing drugs, and later covered up violations.
Armstrong filed suit against USADA and CEO Travis Tygart in a Texas District Court in July, but judge Sam Sparks dismissed that case in August, writing that despite what he termed USADA’s “woefully inadequate charging letter,” Armstrong’s challenges regarding due process were “without merit” and were dismissed without prejudice “for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”
The ruling stated further that Armstrong’s remaining claims “are best resolved through the well-established system of international arbitration, by those with expertise in the field, rather than by the unilateral edict of a single nation’s courts; the Court thus declines to grant equitable relief on Armstrong’s remaining claims on this alternative basis.”
Following that ruling, Armstrong decided to forgo arbitration with USADA and accept a lifetime ban. He announced the decision on the evening of August 23, writing in a statement on his website that, “today I turn the page. I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances. I will commit myself to the work I began before ever winning a single Tour de France title: serving people and families affected by cancer, especially those in underserved communities.”
While Armstrong publicly gave up the fight, the UCI refused to enforce USADA’s recommended ban until it had the opportunity to review the case file. Tygart asserted that the agency’s ban was automatic, as Armstrong had refused his right to arbitration — a position the World Anti-Doping Agency supported — but a war of words erupted over the ensuing month.
Last week, USADA spokesperson Annie Skinner told VeloNews that the agency planned to transfer the file to the UCI before October 15.
“USADA is in the process of finalizing the written reasoned decision in its U.S. Postal Services pro cycling doping case… We will provide the reasoned decision addressing the lifetime bans and disqualifications imposed to the UCI and WADA as provided for under the world rules. We expect it to be sent no later than October 15.”
The UCI issued a statement the next day criticizing USADA over delays in the file transfer, which was initially expected in late August.
“The UCI had no reason to assume that a full case file did not exist but USADA’s continued failure to produce the decision is now a cause for concern,” said McQuaid. “It is over a month since USADA sanctioned Lance Armstrong. We thought that USADA were better prepared before initiating these proceedings.”
VeloNews understands that USADA was informed of new evidence relevant to the case following Armstrong’s announcement that he would accept the agency’s ban.
On Tuesday, Armstrong’s legal team hit out at USADA, claiming its case relied on “serial perjurers” and accusing the agency of enlisting the services of a legal team with ties to big tobacco.
“This reasoned decision will be a farce, written by USADA with the significant assistance of lawyers from one of Big Tobacco’s favorite law firms at a time when Lance Armstrong is one of America’s leading anti-tobacco advocates,” Herman wrote, according to USA Today. “While USADA can put lipstick on a pig, it still remains a pig.”
Velo editor-in-chief Neal Rogers, VeloNews.com editors Brian Holcombe and Patrick O’Grady, and staff reporter Matthew Beaudin contributed to this report.