USA Cycling president and CEO Steve Johnson is refuting claims he knew of the U.S. Postal Service team’s doping regimen this week after a new book claimed a former rider had expressed concern over performance-enhancing drug use to the USAC leader.
In her new book, Cycle of Lies, New York Times reporter Juliet Macur writes that Dave Zabriskie, formerly of USPS and later Garmin-Sharp, told Johnson of the Postal team’s drug usage shortly after Frankie Andreu’s admission of PED use in 2006.
“He wanted help from one of the most powerful men in American cycling — a man who once had been his mentor. Instead, Johnson said Andreu never should have gone public. Then he told Zabriskie, ‘If you ever do drugs, I’ll kill you,’” Macur writes.
Macur writes in the book that Zabriskie repeatedly expressed concern to Johnson, who joined USA Cycling as a high performance consultant in 1999 and served as the chief operating officer before taking the federation’s top post in 2006. Macur writes:
“Uh, Steve,” [Zabriske] said, “I already told you that I have used drugs, that the guys on Postal were injecting me with all sorts of stuff. Remember at worlds two years ago? I told you that they were doing drugs on that team.”
Macur also writes:
Zabriskie thought, “I already told him twice that the Postal team was doping. He didn’t do anything about it then, and he’s not going to do anything about it now … Ugh, he must know everything.”
But, according to Johnson, he knew nothing of the program. USA Cycling issued a statement on Tuesday evening to VeloNews.
“I was disappointed to learn for the first time of Mr. Zabriskie’s allegations in an excerpt from a book written by Juliet Macur, published without her ever having contacted me regarding these claims. The conversations, as she has described them, between Mr. Zabriskie and I never occurred,” the statement reads. “If Mr. Zabriskie had provided the details of doping that she describes in her book, I would have done exactly what USA Cycling and I have done with every allegation of doping that has been brought to our attention: directed the information and/or the athlete to USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency), who has exclusive authority in the United States to investigate alleged doping violations.”
On Tuesday, Macur disputed Johnson’s statement, telling VeloNews that she reached out to Johnson for the book and that he initially denied knowing about the Postal doping program, but that he then called her back shortly thereafter and said he was aware of the doping but only learned of it in 2010 — the same year Floyd Landis, a former Armstrong teammate, blew the lid off the sport when he sent details of the doping program to cycling officials, Johnson included.
Zabriskie also contradicted Johnson’s version of events. When reached for comment by VeloNews, Zabriskie replied in an e-mail: “What do you think he’s going to say? I told him twice before and he ignored it. You think he’s going to admit it now?”
Lance Armstrong, former Postal star and at one point a seven-time Tour de France winner prior to his titles being stripped, told VeloNews in an e-mail that he could not comment on the conversations of others, but that he had not spoken with Johnson on the matter. “I know I never talked to him, and [I know] they never uncovered anything and then tried to cover it up,” he wrote.
Zabriskie retired from professional cycling at the end of the 2013 season. He served a six-month ban in 2012 after he admitted to using PEDs early in his career as part of the testimony that contributed to Armstrong’s lifetime ban.