- Article published:
- August 24, 2012, 17:02
- Daniel Benson
Tygart announces ban after retired rider declined to contest charges
United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has handed down a lifetime ban to retired cyclist Lance Armstrong relating to doping practices from his time at the United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team. On Thursday, Armstrong had declined to contest USADA’s charges, giving up his right to appear before an independent arbitration panel.
This move has prompted USADA to issue a ban dating from August 1,1998.
In addition to the lifetime ban, Armstrong will be disqualified from any and all competitive results obtained on and subsequent to August 1, 1998, including forfeiture of any medals, titles, winnings, finishes, points and prizes. This sees him lose his seven Tour de France titles and a number of other high profile victories.
“Nobody wins when an athlete decides to cheat with dangerous performance enhancing drugs, but clean athletes at every level expect those of us here on their behalf, to pursue the truth to ensure the win-at-all-cost culture does not permanently overtake fair, honest competition” said USADA CEO, Travis T. Tygart.
“Any time we have overwhelming proof of doping, our mandate is to initiate the case through the process and see it to conclusion as was done in this case.”
Armstrong's decision not to contest USADA’s charges were based on his belief that they failed to hold jurisdiction over him and his Tour de France wins. He launched a case in the US courts which was later dismissed, clearing the way for USADA, with WADA’s backing, to proceed.
“As is every athlete’s right, if Mr. Armstrong would have contested the USADA charges, all of the evidence would have been presented in an open legal proceeding for him to challenge. He chose not to do this knowing these sanctions would immediately be put into place,” USADA added in a statement.
“The evidence against Lance Armstrong arose from disclosures made to USADA by more than a dozen witnesses who agreed to testify and provide evidence about their first-hand experience and/or knowledge of the doping activity of those involved in the USPS Conspiracy as well as analytical data. As part of the investigation Mr. Armstrong was invited to meet with USADA and be truthful about his time on the USPS team but he refused.”
“Numerous witnesses provided evidence to USADA based on personal knowledge acquired, either through direct observation of doping activity by Armstrong, or through Armstrong’s admissions of doping to them that Armstrong used EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone during the period from before 1998 through 2005, and that he had previously used EPO, testosterone and hGH through 1996. Witnesses also provided evidence that Lance Armstrong gave to them, encouraged them to use and administered doping products or methods, including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone during the period from 1999 through 2005. Additionally, scientific data showed Mr. Armstrong’s use of blood manipulation including EPO or blood transfusions during Mr. Armstrong’s comeback to cycling in the 2009 Tour de France.”
The anti-doping rule violations for which Mr. Armstrong is being sanctioned are:
(1) Use and/or attempted use of prohibited substances and/or methods including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, corticosteroids and masking agents.
(2) Possession of prohibited substances and/or methods including EPO, blood transfusions and related equipment (such as needles, blood bags, storage containers and other transfusion equipment and blood parameters measuring devices), testosterone, corticosteroids and masking agents.
(3) Trafficking of EPO, testosterone, and corticosteroids.
(4) Administration and/or attempted administration to others of EPO, testosterone, and cortisone.
(5) Assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up and other complicity involving one or more anti-doping rule violations and/or attempted anti-doping rule violations.
- Article published:
- August 24, 2012, 19:50
- Alasdair Fotheringham
Spaniard waiting for more details on Armstrong case
After an mixed first seven days of the Vuelta, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) says that he is still banking on the third week to show his top condition. The Spaniard performed well on Arrate and Ezcaray, attacking no less than seven times on the Basque climb, but lost out on the Fuerte del Rapitan on Thursday.
“I’m looking at the third week to be at my strongest,” Contador said after stage seven. “I haven’t reached my best form yet. I’ve no idea if those cramps I had are a sign of worse times to come, I’ll just have to stay focused.”
Contador said he had noticed that this had been an exceptionally tough first week of the race, “with really hot weather and average speeds of 44 or 45 kmh. And [Chris] Froome is a very tough rival, he was arguably the strongest in the Tour and he’s got a great team. He’s going to be difficult to beat.”
Asked about the Lance Armstrong case and if he could understand why the American had suddenly thrown in the towel, Contador gave a cagey answer, saying, “I’m not really fully informed about what’s happened and I don’t know what the situation is like. I’ll have to wait a bit to be able to give an opinion.” Contador then changed the subject completely and thanked the Spanish public for supporting him during the race.
As for his first week in general and how he’d rate his performance if it was an exam, Contador said, “I’d give myself a pass. I was very pleased with Ezcaray, and if I lost a bit of time yesterday it was maybe partly because of dehydration and partly because it was such a steep, explosive finish. I’m a bit a ring-rusty, so I can be pleased.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s climb of Collado de la Gallina, Contador said “I’ve been to see it, and it’s the most serious climb we’ll have had to face so far. It’s not such a difficult stage in general, but maybe we’ll start to see some important developments.”
“Rather than being scared of any of my rivals, I respect them. But the important thing is what I do, not what they do.”
- Article published:
- August 24, 2012, 20:50
- Alasdair Fotheringham
German's sprint record perfect so far in this year's Vuelta
In less than a week at the Vuelta a Espana, cycling history has repeated itself on three occasions: Allan Davis (Orica-GreenEdge) on stage 2, Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan) on stage 5, Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) on stage 7 - all three of them have hammered their handlebars in frustration at finishing second behind John Degenkolb (Argos Shimano) as the German's powerful last ditch acceleration helped him roar past and net yet another late, but convincing, victory.
Degenkolb is not just hammering them in stage wins. The 23-year-old has built up a healthy lead in the points competition, with 76 points compared to closest purser Viviani, who has 47. Although all-rounder Bauke Mollema won the points competition in 2011, Mark Cavendish's final victory in that classification in 2010 and Andre Greipel's win in 2009 could give the German reasons for hoping he may take it all the way to Madrid.
"Last year, it went to Mollema, and he's a bit different than me," Degenkolb said, "but I've got the green jersey on my shoulders and of course I will fight for it. I fight for everything."
"It was a pretty hard stage finish -left, right, up, down - and everybody could see how difficult it was, we were all lined out. But Sky did a great job and a good leadout for Swifty [Ben Swift] and I had a few problems when they started to pull so hard."
"But finally my guys had timed things well, put me in perfect position, and I was there all the way."
"One victory was enough to make me happy. Everything else was a bonus. But getting so many and doing so well makes it much easier to suffer."
As Degenkolb also pointed out, three wins in a week makes it clear that as a ProConti team invited by the Vuelta organisation, "we deserve to be here. And we deserved to be in the Tour [de France] as well, where only Marcel [Kittel] getting sick made it tougher for us. But I want to thank the Vuelta organisation for inviting us."
Munching on a plate of rice and tomato both before and after the press conference, race leader Joaquím Rodriguez said it had been a "very stressful day. [It was] really hot again and finally that takes its toll. The guys who were going back to get water said they felt really envious of the air conditioning coming out of the team car windows."
Despite the temperatures yet again getting unpleasantly close to 40 degrees Celsius, it was not, however, the hottest weather the Katusha rider has experienced in a race. He remembered both the 2005 Vuelta and a Tour Down Under of around a decade ago as being even worse.
Rodriguez is keen, however, to get to grips with the Collada de la Gallina summit finish on tomorrow's stage into Andorra, close to where he has a home and trains for long periods and where a radical weather change is expected, too. Temperatures are due to drop by over 10 degrees, and there may well be rain during the stage.
"The Collada is a very tough climb, particularly the last four kilometres where there are sections of up to 15 or 20 percent. For sure Alberto [Contador-Saxo Bank] will try to attack."
"My three biggest rivals [Alejandro Valverde, Contador and Chris Froome] are totally different, and we'll have to see how they race there: Contador likes big changes of speed, Alejandro is more the kind of rider to take things easy right up until the last minute, and Froome is going to try and wear us down slowly."
Asked to compare how he felt compared to 2010, when he last led the Vuelta but lost it in Andorra, Rodriguez said, "It was a very different season. I had done a lot of racing back then before the Vuelta. This time around, I feel a lot more sure I can do well overall."
Tomorrow, his words will be put to the test.
- Article published:
- August 24, 2012, 21:20
- Cycling News
Spanish former pro content with his podium place
Fernado Escartin, who finished third behind Lance Armstrong and Alex Zuelle in the 1999 Tour de France, has called USADA’s decision to ban Armstrong and strip him of his Tour titles "illogical".
Escartin was one of the most successful climbers of his generation, competing at the highest level both before and after Armstrong’s first Tour win. In 1999, he raced for the Spanish Kelme squad and won a stage.
Armstrong, who has always denied doping, announced on Thursday that would not contest USADA’s charges relating to doping offences during his time with the US Postal Service squad.
"It's 13 years now since this all happened, it seems completely illogical and unreal. I don't want to even think about it. How far back in time do they want to go?,” Escartin told Reuters.
"Once they have done all the doping tests then that's as far as it should go," the Spaniard said. "It makes no sense.
"In Spain, after five years a legal case is dropped and for me, Lance Armstrong is as much a champion now as he was yesterday."
- Article published:
- August 24, 2012, 22:00
- Jane Aubrey
Former Motorola teammate says UCI is in dangerous territory
Phil Anderson is "disappointed" that former Motorola teammate Lance Armstrong will lose his seven Tour de France titles and wonders what ramifications the case will have for doping allegations in future.
Anderson, speaking to Cyclingnews following Thursday's announcement by Armstrong that he won't fight USADA's charges, admits that he has not "had much to do with Lance post-cancer" but does not believe that the Texan is guilty of the allegations.
"The skeptics will be happy that he's had to walk away from it," said Anderson. "I've always been in support of Lance and believed Lance and his story.
"Call me gullible but I wouldn't have believed Floyd Landis's story - you could see that from his performances. Lance hasn't spiked or fallen off. He's never failed a test."
Anderson rode with Armstrong on the Motorola team between 1992 and 1994 and says he never saw his teammate dope.
"We were pretty close too," Anderson said. "We knocked around together, we were often roommates and I never suspected it nor would I ever believe that this would be an athlete that would. That was prior to cancer. You stare death in the face and you change. He came back and he was a few kilos lighter and he really had fire in his eyes to prove to himself and the world that not only could you beat cancer, but you can come back with vengeance and kick everybody's arse."
The non-European to lead the Tour de France believes that Armstrong's success following cancer made him a target and says that even during his own career, impressive results drew immediate suspicion.
Anderson has previously admitted publicly that he was ashamed of the sport following the Festina affair in 1998 and says now that the real concern is with cycling's governing body. USADA's evidence against Armstrong is said to have included an alleged cover up of a doping control at the 2001 Tour de Suisse, with witnesses reiterating earlier claims made by Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton that a positive test for EPO was covered up. The UCI denies the claim and began proceedings against Landis.
"That sort of smells of corruption at the highest level within the sport and if that is the case, it's hard to make comment," Anderson told Cyclingnews. "It would be very disappointing if that is the case because these are the people that run our sport.
"They're [the UCI is] in dangerous territory I guess and they will want the whole thing to go away. It's not good for the sport to have this sort of publicity. It's like a bad dream for them, I'm sure."
Given the wrangling over jurisdiction on the case and the previous attempts to find a definitive answer as to whether Armstrong doped throughout his career, Anderson said that he will be interested to see how much weight is given to hearsay in future cases.
"That changes the whole story," he said. "You've got to know who your mates are.
"I thought it was a good story when Greg Lemond came back to the Tour de France after a shooting accident with bits of lead in him," Anderson continued. "They needed a better story than that so then Lance comes back after surviving cancer - they're groundbreaking stories and it sells newspapers and magazines.
"The headlines today after going to be about this supreme athlete losing his titles, people like to read about this stuff. People like to hear about celebrities going down for one reason or another."
- legal case
- Lance Armstrong
- Article published:
- August 24, 2012, 22:25
- Cycling News
Must pay Fairness Fund donations back within three years
Floyd Landis agreed to repay almost half a million dollars he fraudulently raised for the purpose of challenging doping charges related to his Tour de France race in 2006. Landis won the race but was later stripped of the title after testing positive for testosterone.
If Landis fails to repay donations which he raised under the Floyd Fairness banner within a three-year period, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
According to the AP, Landis admitted receiving $478,354 from 1,765 donors.
"I can never undo what happened," he told reporters. "I can never undo having lied to people but if, in some small way, making restitution helps them to forgive me, then that's a small step in the right direction," Landis said.
The Floyd Fairness fund was created in 2007. Landis and his associates set up meetings across the country and auctioned a signed jersey and other materials. Landis also wrote a book called Positively False: The Real Story of How I Won the Tour de France, in which he argued his innocence.
According to AP, the 14-page agreement with prosecutors caps restitution at 50 percent of Landis' annual income, if he makes at least $200,000. Payments would be limited to five percent of his annual income if he makes less than $50,000.
Upon leaving the hearing Landis said, “I'm looking forward to the future. It doesn't involve cycling.”
- Article published:
- August 25, 2012, 01:20
- Peter Hymas
Former teammate praises USADA's actions
One of the early casualties of the Lance Armstrong doping saga was former teammate Frankie Andreu, a professional from 1989 to 2000 and a member of the US Postal Service team's roster during Armstrong's first two Tour de France victories in 1999 and 2000.
Andreu, currently at Colorado's USA Pro Challenge as an analyst, spoke to Cyclingnews in Breckenridge prior to stage 5, the morning after Armstrong announced he wouldn't contest the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) charges, thus accepting a lifetime ban as well as forfeiture of his seven Tour de France titles.
"Lance fights everything so I was very surprised that he chose to not fight the charges," Andreu told Cyclingnews. "At the same time I'm really surprised that USADA has enough information to strip him pretty much of all his results. I never imagined that it would come to that."
In 1996, Betsy and Frankie Andreu were present in a hospital conference room where Armstrong, having just had treatment for cancer, is alleged to have admitted to his doctors to taking banned doping products. Ten years later in 2006, the pair were called to testify under oath at a civil suit between Armstrong and SCA Promotions, an underwriter who was refusing to pay a $5 million bonus for his sixth Tour victory because of allegations Armstrong had used banned substances in order to win.
The Andreus testified at the hearing that they heard Armstrong admit to taking a list of substances: growth hormone, cortisone, EPO, steroids and testosterone to his doctors. In the same case, Armstrong's primary doctor submitted an affidavit that he had never seen any evidence that Armstrong admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs, and Armstrong himself denied having ever made such an admission.
A New York Times article published in 2006 stated Armstrong had testified that Betsy Andreu lied because "she hates me" and that Frankie Andreu had lied because "he’s trying to back up his old lady."
In that same New York Times article, Frankie Andreu admitted to taking EPO in preparation for the 1999 Tour de France. His wife Betsy stated she blamed Armstrong for Frankie taking EPO, saying he "didn’t use EPO for himself, because as a domestique, he was never going to win that race. It was for Lance."
"This thing is so much larger than Betsy and I," Andreu told Cyclingnews, in reference to USADA's investigation of Armstrong. "I'm like a speck of sand in this investigation and obviously I think there's a lot of information out there and my main point is my wife and I never told a lie about the hospital room, there were other people in that room, and I want the information to come out to show that they covered it up and made us look like the bad guys."
Andreu had read Armstrong's statement in which the embattled Texan likened USADA's investigation to an "unconstitutional witch hunt", and Andreu was left unimpressed.
"His press release sounds like a broken record repeating the same lines we have already heard hundreds of times from him. He's been saying the same thing for years."
Andreu supports USADA's efforts to punish dopers, no matter their stature, and hopes this is indicative of a better future for the sport of professional cycling.
"I think it sends a pointed lesson to all the riders that the sport is changing and it's for the better," said Andreu. "If you've done things that are wrong then you're going to get caught.
"USADA has shown some true grit by not backing down from a popular and wealthy athlete and showing that clean sport is a right for every athlete. If Lance really wants to help his foundation and help people with cancer, he should admit to the past, apologize and move forward with a clear conscience."
- Article published:
- August 25, 2012, 01:55
- Pat Malach
"There is no shortcut" in cycling, says German
Jens Voigt, the veteran RadioShack-Nissan rider and winner of stage 4 this week at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado, said Friday that he hopes the ongoing battle between Lance Armstrong and USADA is finally over so that cycling can move forward and look to the future.
"I just hope that it's finally going to actually come to an end," Voigt said before the stage 5 start in Breckenridge. "I mean we're probably not going to solve everything with the trial of it, but I just hope it comes to an end so we can actually – not start fresh – but, OK, now we draw a line where that is the past and we just let it rest in peace now.
"Some of it is like eight years, 10 years, or whatever how many years back, so we will go, OK, we will close that now and just start looking forward and try to make our sport, good clean, proper in the future," he said.
The soon-to-be-41-year-old also said he hopes to serve as an example for the next generation of riders coming into the professional ranks.
"Well, I hope that I'm allowed to say or be an example, where I can say, 'Look guys, I was in cycling during the hard times, and I'm still here, still alive and able to do my job," the popular German said. "The body is still doing it. [I want] to show the kids, look, there is no shortcut."
Voigt, who has become famous for his sense of humor and for telling his body to "shut up legs" when they are screaming at him to quit, also said there is more to a cyclist's job than simply going first in races, adding that winning over fans with a reputation for hard work and integrity holds its own value.
"This is a sport where you need a lot of dedication and hard work, and if you stick by the rules you're going to have a long career, and people like you for that," he said. "Maybe I'm not a multi-billionaire, but you know, I actually won the crowd, and that's something important. Focus on the better part of our sport, entertain the people, be straight."
Voigt said a clear conscience is also the reward for avoiding the "short cuts" that lead to doping allegations and busts.
"[Thursday] I had to go to doping control after my stage win," he said. "And I know that even if they freeze it for 100 years and tested it with new methods 100 years from now, it's my win, because nothing is going to happen.
"There is nothing in my urine sample, so I can sleep," he continued. "I can go with my kids, go for a swim, go for a barbecue, go to the zoo, go geocaching and don't be afraid that people might point their fingers at me. I think that's really worth the effort. I'm trying to teach the kids: go straight in life and you will be rewarded for that."