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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, January 18, 2013

Date published:
January 18, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Verbruggen: Nothing illegal has happened

    UCI president Hein Verbruggen with Lance Armstrong in 2002
    Article published:
    January 17, 2013, 17:20 GMT
    Cycling News

    Account with Armstrong's backer not a conflict of interests, says former UCI president

    Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen has admitted that he had assets managed by the investment bank of Thom Weisel, backer of Lance Armstrong’s US Postal Service team, but denied that it constituted a conflict of interests.

    The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Verbruggen had invested with Armstrong’s former Motorola manager Jim Ochowicz in 1999, when Ochowicz worked as a broker for Robert Baird & Co. When Ochowicz later began to work for Thomas Weisel Partners in 2001, the Verbruggen account moved with him.

    "I have given Jim a small amount of money to manage for me, and he moved to Thom Weisel,” Verbruggen told the Associated Press. “I didn't even know who Thom Weisel was. There is no relationship whatsoever. You give a guy that you like a small amount of money to manage and 12 years later, I end up in a doping case."

    Verbruggen corroborated the Wall Street Journal story, which said that he held the brokerage account between 1999 and 2004. He stepped down as president of the UCI in 2005, the same year that Armstrong claimed the last of his since rescinded seven Tour de France victories.

    US Anti-Doping Agency head Travis Tygart questioned the nature of the relationship between Verbruggen and Thom Weisel, who was a backer of Tailwind Sports the management company behind the US Postal Service team.

    “Nothing illegal has happened, or ever did. The comments of Mr. Tygart, I would call them cynical almost," Verbruggen told the Associated...

  • Details of Landis' federal whistleblower suit revealed

    Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis on the US Postal team
    Article published:
    January 17, 2013, 19:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Armstrong, Bruyneel, Weisel, Stapleton, Knaggs listed as defendants

    The New York Daily News has revealed the full details of the sealed federal lawsuit filed by Floyd Landis in 2010, which accuses Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel and the Tailwind Sports management company behind the US Postal Service team of defrauding the United States government by operating a systematic doping programme.

    The individual defendants listed by Landis’ lawsuit are Armstrong, Bruyneel, Thomas Weisel, Armstrong’s agent Bill Stapleton and former Tailwind Sports president Barton Knaggs, while Tailwind Sports, Montgomery Sports and Capital Sports and Entertainment are also named.

    The Landis suit was filed on June 10, 2010 under the Federal False Claims Act, which allows whistleblowers to sue parties who they allege have defrauded the federal government.

    The 33-page document reiterates much of the evidence which Landis provided to the US Anti-Doping Agency as part of its investigation into the doping system in place at the US Postal Service team, and states that Landis “is informed and believes, based on the allegations stated herein that […] defendants have knowingly concealed and continue to conceal from the USPS the fact that defendants engaged in a systematic programme of doping.”

    Landis’ lawsuit also states that “the defendants submitted or caused to be submitted claims for payment to the USPS with knowledge that the USPS Team was engaged in doping and other wrongful conduct in violation of the terms of the sponsorship contracts.”

    US Postal Service renewed its sponsorship deal with the team in...

  • USA Cycling denies Weisel influenced anti-doping policies

    Ochowicz has also been a long-time employee of Thomas Weisel Partners,
    Article published:
    January 17, 2013, 20:30 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Defends Tailwind owner’s involvement in Development Foundation

    USA Cycling today defended its close ties to former US Postal Service team owner Thomas Weisel, who was named as a defendant in a federal whistleblower lawsuit aimed at recouping the sponsorship funds provided by the government.

    At the same time that Weisel's Tailwind Sports owned Lance Armstrong's US Postal Service Team, the California investment banker was also heavily involved in not only bankrolling USA Cycling’s non-profit Development Foundation, he was also intimately involved in reviving the finances of its parent organization, USA Cycling.

    In the "qui tam" suit filed by Floyd Landis and his attorney Paul Scott, it is stated that, “Mr. Landis is informed and believes that these conflicts of interest and overlapping relationships between USA Cycling, the USA Cycling Foundation, and Thomas Weisel helped make it possible for the USPS Team to carry on the extensive program of systematically doping team athletes during the period relevant to this complaint.”

    The sealed filing, leaked in the New York Daily News today, cites Weisel’s own biography in stating that he was “largely in charge” of USA Cycling when, in 2000, he stepped in to rescue the financially ailing federation. That was the same year that the US Anti-Doping Agency was created, taking the responsibility for doping controls and adjudication away from the national sporting federations for Olympic sports.

    The filing also states that the Foundation provided “approximately $500,000 to $725,000 each year” to USA Cycling, “a substantial...

  • Catch all the action from the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under on Cyclingnews

    Simon Gerrans got GreenEdge's WorldTour season off to a fine start.
    Article published:
    January 17, 2013, 23:24 GMT
    Cycling News

    Live coverage on every stage

    Cyclingnews will once again have every angle of the Santos Tour Down Under covered when the first UCI WorldTour event of the 2013 season kicks off with the People's Choice Classic criterium this Sunday evening (Australian Central Daylight Time).

    We'll have live coverage from our Australian team on the ground in Adelaide, Jane Aubrey and Alex Malone as well as comprehensive reports, results and photo galleries. You can join the conversation on Twitter by using #cntdu

    You won't miss any of the news or the latest tech developments with James Huang also scouring the pits.

    Following the introduction of his popular video segments in 2012, Phil Anderson will once again be joining us following the completion of each stage to analyse the ebbs and flows within the peloton.

    Cyclingnews live coverage schedule:
    Sunday, January 20 - People's Choice Classic: 1850
    Tuesday, January 22 - Stage 1 - Prospect to Loebethal: 1050
    Wednesday, January 23 - Stage 2 - Mount Barker - Rostrevor: 1050
    Thursday, January 24 - Stage 3 - Unley - Stirling: 1050
    Friday, January 25 - Stage 4 - Modbury - Tanunda: 1050
    Saturday, January 26 - Stage 5 - McLaren Vale - Old Willunga Hill: 1100
    Sunday, January 27 - Stage 6 - Adelaide criterium: 1305
    *All times ACDT


  • Can Armstrong restore his image?

    Lance Armstrong poses with his Damien Hirst-painted Trek at the conclusion of the 2009 Tour de France
    Article published:
    January 18, 2013, 0:13 GMT
    Cycling News

    Oprah interview may be too little, too late

    As the sports world eagerly anticipates tonight’s interview with Lance Armstrong by Oprah Winfrey, there is much speculation as to why the American has decided to finally come forward after he has already been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and his Olympic medal, after he has lost his personal sponsorships and resigned as chairman of his eponymous cancer foundation.

    When he admits to cheating in order to win, Armstrong is taking a very big risk: the federal government is reportedly considering joining in on a very large whistleblower lawsuit in which Armstrong is one of several defendants. SCA Promotions and the Sunday Times have already stated their intent to recoup settlements they made to Armstrong when he argued against their assertions that he had doped. So why come forward now?

    A report in the Wall Street Journal detailed a December meeting between Armstrong and the same US Anti-Doping Agency that succeeded in exposing him as a fraud. Reportedly Armstrong went in...

  • Lance Armstrong confesses to EPO and blood doping

    A downcast Lance Armstrong
    Article published:
    January 18, 2013, 4:37 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Tells Oprah Winfrey he could not have won the Tour seven times clean

    Lance Armstrong has told Oprah Winfrey that not only did he use EPO and blood dope throughout his career, but that it was also impossible to win seven Tours de France as he did, without drugs.

    In the opening minute of questioning, described by Winfrey as "no hold barred, no conditions... an open field", Armstrong admitted to the use of cortisone, EPO, Human Growth Hormone, Testosterone and blood doping.

    Asked why he was confessing now after years of denials, the 41-year-old said:

    "That’s the best question, that’s the most logical question," he admitted. "I don’t know that I have a great answer. I will start my answer by saying that this is too late. It’s too late for probably most people and that’s my problem. I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot it times."

    Armstrong recorded the interview over two-and-a-half hours on Monday at a hotel in Austin, Texas. He was the focus of the United States Anti-Doping Agency's investigation which labelled the US Postal team's operation as "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen" on October 10, 2012. USADA stripped Armstrong of all results from August 1, 1998 when he declined to contest charges of doping in late August and handed the Texan a lifetime ban all of which was later ratified by cycling's governing body, the UCI.

    Armstrong took issue with USADA's description of the systematic doping within the U.S. Postal team.

    "It was definitely professional," he said. "It was definitely smart, if you can call it that but it was very conservative, very risk averse, very aware ... that one race mattered for me. But to say that the program was bigger than the East German doping program...

  • Motorola teammate Anderson expected more in Armstrong interview

    Phil Anderson waits for the start of the 1988 race
    Article published:
    January 18, 2013, 6:05 GMT
    Alex Malone

    "He hasn't pulled anything out of the hat, yet"

    Lance Armstrong's former Motorola teammate Phil Anderson says the interview and subsequent confession with Oprah Winfrey was not what he expected. Anderson was yet to watch Part I of the interview but admitted to feeling initially overwhelmed that Armstrong was going to admit to the use of doping methods during his seven-year reign at the Tour de France.

    "Now it's quite overwhelming. I was really surprised that he was going to jump the couch like he did. Once I accepted that, it was just a matter of how much he was going to reveal," Anderson told Cyclingnews.

    "I guess it's good to hear it from the horse's mouth, finally.

    "It wasn't what I expected. I think the hype that was generated before was greater than what was actually revealed. Whether it was intended that way, for people to stay on until tomorrow I'm not sure.

    "But he didn't seem to reveal anything that hasn't been leaked or we haven't read in Hamilton's book. Maybe that's going to come out tomorrow. He hasn't pulled anything out of the hat yet," he said.

    The build-up that surrounded the interview was greater than the actual delivery, says Anderson who was yet to actually watch the program. Anderson had been a strong supporter of Armstrong even when the United States Anti-Doping Agency had slammed his former teammate with charges of conspiracy and doping.

    "Armstrong has always been on a bit of a pedestal for me."

    The two were teammates at Motorola between 1992 and 1994 but Anderson never suspected Armstrong of using banned substances. Armstrong stated he began using doping products in the mid '90s during his interview but there was no reason to believe the...

  • LeMond not satisfied with Armstrong’s admission

    Greg LeMond
    Article published:
    January 18, 2013, 6:32 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Saying doping was necessary to win the Tour de France tarnishes all champions

    When Lance Armstrong publicly admitted that he doped to during his career, it was a confession that vindicated what many people have said for the past 13 years. One of those people is three-time Tour champion Greg LeMond, now the only American to have actually won the race. But LeMond was not satisfied with tonight's interview, saying that Armstrong’s assertions that he needed to dope to win tarnishes all of cycling’s champions unfairly.

    “Armstrong has destroyed anyone who has been successful in cycling,” LeMond told Cyclingnews. “I get pissed off when I hear that you can’t win the Tour without doping. Look at Andy Hampsten [winner of the 1988 Giro d’Italia, third in the 1989 Giro and fourth in the Tour in 1986 and 1992) – there was no way he was on any doping program.”

    LeMond pointed to his own Tour victories, which he asserts were accomplished through his own freakish talent - talent he said was equally unbelievable to his competitors when he was coming up as a junior, but which was accomplished clean.

    LeMond says that Armstrong could not have won the Tour de France clean because he was not the super-talented athlete which he made himself out to be. In fact, LeMond called Armstrong’s natural talent “average”, and said that his incredible increase in performance thanks to doping was so remarkable, it was difficult to believe it was only the result of EPO, testosterone and transfusions.

    “If Armstrong had given Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton the same stuff he was taking, he would never have won – they would have beaten him.”

    It is exactly these kinds of statements which earned LeMond the “number one spot on Armstrong’s most hated list”, LeMond said.

    After watching the interview, he believes Armstrong feels...