The United States Anti-Doping Agency, which banned seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrongfrom competition for life in August, is set to reveal the findings that led to the discipline Wednesday.
In a statement emailed to news outlets, USADA Chief Executive Travis Tygart said, “The evidence shows beyond any doubt that” Armstrong’s “U.S. Postal Service Cycling team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
Tygart said USADA’s “reasoned decision” to pursue banning Armstrong before the cyclist clinched the penalty by withdrawing from the agency’s arbitration process will be sent to the International Cycling Union (UCI), the World Anti-Doping Agency and the World Triathlon Corp. on Wednesday.
DOCUMENT: USADA anti-doping report on Armstrong
The evidence, Tygart said, is in excess of 1,000 pages and features sworn testimony from 26 individuals, “including 15 riders with knowledge of the USPS team and its participants’ doping activities.”
Tygart praised the “courage” of 11 Armstrong teammates who came forward: Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.
According to the statement, USADA gathered information that “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.”
Tygart said all of the material will be posted on the USADA website, usada.org, later Wednesday.
In his statement, Tygart said: “The USPS Team doping conspiracy was professionally designed to groom and pressure athletes to use dangerous drugs, to evade detection, to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair competitive advantage through superior doping practices. A program organized by individuals who thought they were above the rules and who still play a major and active role in sport today.
“The evidence demonstrates that the ‘Code of Silence’ of performance enhancing drug use in the sport of cycling has been shattered, but there is more to do. From day one, we always hoped this investigation would bring to a close this troubling chapter in cycling’s history and we hope the sport will use this tragedy to prevent it from ever happening again.”
Tygart urged UCI to follow through on its suggestion of a “Truth and Reconciliation Program” to encourage riders to “acknowledge the truth about their past doping” as a route to possibly “unshackle” cycling from its past and “dismantle the remaining system that allowed this EPO and blood doping era to flourish.”
Tygart expressed hope that beyond the discipline and ridicule cooperating riders who’ve revealed deception have received, there can now be forgiveness “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,” Tygart wrote.
Armstrong’s attorney, Tim Herman, distributed a letter Tuesday criticizing USADA for pressuring riders to provide information that the Armstrong camp disputes, citing Armstrong’s hundreds of negative drug tests.
In addition to Armstrong, USPS doctors Michele Ferrari and Garcia del Moral have received lifetime bans. Team director Johan Bruynell, team doctor Pedro Celaya and team trainer Jose “Pepe” Marti have taken their cases to arbitration.
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