- Article published:
- October 10, 2012, 23:08
- Cycling News
Fahey says agency has been in compliance with WADA code
The reasoned decision issued today by the US Anti-Doping Agency on Lance Armstrong's doping case has been received by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and a statement of support has come from its president John Fahey.
“We would like to commend USADA for having the courage and the resolve to keep focused in working on this difficult case for the sake of clean athletes and the integrity of sport," Fahey said in a press release.
The Australian confirmed that his agency will now, "as with all cases, carefully consider [the reasoned decision's] contents and the voluminous accompanying evidence".
He further supported the efforts of the American agency, stating, “The process followed by USADA has at all times been appropriate and careful, and in compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code (Code)."
The file is also in the hands of the UCI, which has said it would examine the dossier and comment as promptly as possible. It has 21 days to decide whether it would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in order to reverse Armstrong's lifetime ban.
"Thereafter, WADA has a further 21 days to determine whether we will exercise our independent right of appeal," Fahey said. “In the interim, it is obviously inappropriate for us to make further comments."
- Article published:
- October 10, 2012, 23:42
- Cycling News
Team manager pressured riders, facilitated doping
The USADA Reasoned Decision document reveals huge details of the findings of the investigators, lifting the lid on what USADA calls "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".
The document includes a damning nine-page section titled: Johan Bruyneel's involvement in doping.
The Belgian team manager is mentioned multiple times elsewhere in documents but the section alleges how Bruyneel learned how to "introduce young men to performance enhancing drugs, becoming adept at leading them down the path from newly minted professional rides to veteran drug user."
Bruyneel has always denied the accusations of doping and has as yet chosen to contest the charges made by USADA and take his case to arbitration in the USA.
Using key sections of many of the witnesses' affidavits and even carefully selected quotes from Bruyneel's own autobiography, the USADA report details Bruyneel's persuasive and often bullying techniques. It reveals how he closely monitored riders' blood values, taught them how to blood dope and pressured them instead of protecting their health.
“The overwhelming evidence in this case is that Johan Bruyneel was intimately involved in all significant details of the U.S. Postal team’s doping program. He alerted the team to the likely presence of testers. He communicated with Dr. Ferrari about his stars’ doping programs,” the document said.
“He was on top of the details for organizing blood transfusion programs before the major Tours, and he knew when athletes needed to take EPO to regenerate their blood supply after extracting blood. He was present when blood transfusions were given. He even personally provided drugs to the riders on occasion.”
Bruyneel convinced Zabriskie to take his first EPO injection by reportedly telling him that everyone was doing it.
The USADA documents describes the moment as follows: “David was cornered. He had embraced cycling to escape a life seared by drugs and now he felt that he could not say no and stay in his mentor’s good graces.”
“He looked to [Michael] Barry for support but he did not find it. Barry’s mind was made up. Barry had decided to use EPO, and he reinforced Bruyneel’s opinions that EPO use was required for success in the peloton.
"The group retired to Barry’s apartment where both David and Barry were injected with EPO by Dr. del Moral. Thus began a new stage in David Zabriskie’s cycling career – the doping stage. Cycling was no longer David’s refuge from drugs. When he went back to his room that night he cried.”
The section on Bruyneel concludes: “Bruyneel’s relationship with these young riders tell us much, both about the character of the man who served as Lance Armstrong’s handpicked Team Director for nine seasons and about the pervasiveness of the doping on the USPS and Discovery Channel teams, affording as well additional insight into the people Armstrong surrounded himself with and their familiarity with, openness toward, and involvement in doping.”
Bruyneel is still the general manager of the current RadioShack-Nissan team.
- Article published:
- October 11, 2012, 00:53
- Cycling News
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step put rider on non-active status
Levi Leipheimer has made a statement accepting his six month sanction for doping offenses which comes in response to USADA’s 200-page “reasoned decision” document that was released to the public on Wednesday. Leipheimer admits to using prohibited substances including EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions dating back to his 2000 and 2001 seasons with the US Postal team, and all the way to 2007 when he rode for Discovery Channel.
The 'Acceptance of Sanction' statement outlines Leipheimer’s period of ineligibility dated from September 1, 2012 and ending on March 1, 2013. All results obtained from June 1, 1999 through to July 30, 2006 and from July 7 through to July 29, 2007 have been stripped. His statement regarding his anti-doping rule violation also details the years and teams on which he engaged in doping practices.
"I, Levi Leipheimer, accept the following sanction as a result of my doping offenses for my use of the prohibited substances EPO and testosterone and the use of prohibited blood transfusions. I used prohibited substances and/or prohibited methods during 2000 and 2001 while a member of the United States Postal Service Cycling Team, during 2002 through 2004 while on the Rabobank Cycling Team, during 2005 and 2006 while on the Gerolsteiner Cycling Team and during 2007 while a member of the Discovery Channel Cycling Team."
The Affidavit of Levi Leipheimer details the first moments in which the rider came to "believe that in order to be successful in professional cycling it was necessary to use performance enhancing drugs."
Leipheimer admits to using EPO in the later part of his 1999 season when he rode for the Saturn Cycling Team – a year before he joined US Postal in 2000. Leipheimer describes being offered EPO in 1999 and while he "debated internally about whether to use EPO" he consequently admits to "trying EPO during the second half of the 1999 season."
In addition to Leipheimer’s six-month ban he also accepts that in order for him to "regain eligibility" he must "repay all prize money" forfeited as a result of his anti-doping rule violations. Considering Leipheimer admitted to doping over a near eight-year duration, this amount could equate to a significant amount. Whether this obligation is fulfilled is yet to be seen.
A piece by Leipheimer was also published by The Wall Street Journal and states that he has been riding clean for the past five seasons and outlines his reasoning on staying quiet for so long.
"I could have come forward sooner. But would that have accomplished anything—other than to end my career? One rider coming forward and telling his story in the face of cycling's code of silence would not have fixed a problem that was institutional," Leipheimer wrote.
"When Usada came to me and described a solution—where my admission could be part of a bigger plan that would make the positive changes we've seen in recent years permanent—I said "I need to be involved." I don't want today's 13 year olds to be discouraged by their parents from dreaming about one day riding the Tour de France."
Leipheimer has a current contract with Omega Pharma - Quick-Step who also released a statement today.
"Following the information released by USADA regarding Levi Leipheimer, Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team announces that the rider has been placed on non-active status. The Team takes the decision of Usada and the consequent statement of Mr. Leipheimer very seriously. The Team wants to review and consider all the information now being made available and speak personally with the rider before a final decision is made.
"The Team would like to point out that the battle against doping has always been a guiding principle of the team's activities and work ethic.
"The suspension imposed by the USADA refers to a period of time when the athlete was not part of Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team."
- Article published:
- October 11, 2012, 02:46
- Laura Weislo
Former teammates describe change in attitude after Lance years
In its reasoned decision document, USADA reveals that Lance Armstrong not only doped himself in order to win his seven Tours de France, but he helped to propagate a culture of doping within his team, pressuring riders to dope, distributing doping products to his teammates, and casting aside those who refused to participate. He intimidated those who dared to break the 'omerta', or code of silence surrounding doping in the professional peloton, using his vast influence to ruin the post-cycling careers of at least one ex-teammate.
Yet during Armstrong's record Tour de France run - the seven victories which in all likelihood will be stripped at the end of the current procedures - the same teammates who seemed to be willing participants in the game had to encourage each other when their conscience kicked in, and ultimately some chose to follow their hearts and give up the drugs.
It is difficult to reconcile the personalities we see in the USADA affidavits with the ones we see today touting the new, clean cycling lifestyle: riders from Garmin-Sharp such as Christian Vande Velde, Tom Danielson and Slipstream CEO Jonathan Vaughters, Team Sky's Michael Barry and Armstrong's right-hand man, George Hincapie, who says he got clean in 2006 before moving on to the anti-doping bastion of HTC-Highroad. All of them succumbed to drug use, and either shared drugs or encouraged each other to join in.
The turning points for the riders who came forward to testify against Armstrong vary, but each affidavit sheds some light on their changing attitudes as they distanced themselves from Armstrong.
"George Hincapie and I were quite open with each other about our use of performance enhancing drugs," Christian Vande Velde testified. "On several occasions, I expressed my nervousness about using EPO to George and he reassured me and got me through it."
Michael Barry, who recently retired from Team Sky, recounted his days with US Postal that it was Hincapie who suggested he use EPO.
"During an early season training ride, George told me he thought I was a talented rider and suggested I consider using EPO and testosterone," Barry testified just two days ago.
Armstrong and Vaughters shared their use of EPO with each other, with Armstrong even injecting the drug in front of Vaughters, saying "[n]ow that you are doing EPO too, you can't go write a book about it."
Armstrong shared drugs with Hincapie, Hincapie shared them with Vande Velde, Vande Velde shared his with Barry - as the years went by, the doubts in riders' minds grew, but in no document does anyone suggest Armstrong ever wavered.
The same was not true for his teammates.
Hincapie himself testified that after Armstrong retired, "I began to think about my involvement in doping and that it was time to try and stand up for a change in the sport. ... As I talked with other riders, most approved of this approach." He states he has not used banned drugs or methods since 2006.
Barry describes his horrific 2005 Tour of Flanders crash, which left him alone, in a hospital with a concussion and broken vertebrae, and nobody from his Discovery Channel team came to be with him. It was this moment which made him decide to quit doping and to become more outspoken about cleaning up the sport. "My efforts to push for a cleaner sport were not always well received," he stated.
"One of the riders who publicly supported my efforts was George Hincapie."
Vande Velde testified to being pressured to stick to the program given to him by Dr. Michele Ferrari in 2001, one that "involved regular use of EPO and testosterone", he stated.
But his fears of needles and of being caught meant he was reluctant to follow the program. He was not selected for the 2002 Tour de France and was told by Armstrong, "if I wanted to continue to ride for the Postal Service team I would have to use what Dr. Ferrari had been telling me to use and would have to follow Dr. Ferrari's program to the letter.
"Johan Bruyneel confirmed this a few days later ... and said he expected to see improvement."
Vande Velde left the team in 2003 for the Liberty Seguros team, which he stated "had an organised doping program as well". After moving to CSC in 2005, and in the absence of "the pressure of an organised doping program, I decided I would only continue in the sport if I could ride clean." He stated he stopped doping in April, 2006.
Zabriskie describes coming into the sport at the time of the Festina affair in 1998, and testified, "I knew I did not want to use drugs". He was reassured by current USA Cycling president Steve Johnson (then with a performance lab), who said the sport was cleaning up.
By 2000, he caught the attention of Bruyneel with a win in the U23 GP des Nations. He was hired on at $40,000, but refused to participate in "recovery injections". In 2001, he was begging to keep his job, accepting a drop in salary to $15,000 just to stay. In 2002, he began using the injections, because "I came to believe it was just vitamins".
Although he joked about EPO on the team bus earlier, Zabriskie testified that he was reluctant to succumb to its use until finally, when his teammate Barry decided to give in, Zabriskie did as well in 2003.
After leaving US Postal in 2004, Zabriskie moved to CSC, during which time he used doping products growth hormone and testosterone several times, but then in June, 2006 he stated he quit doping for good,
Danielson testified to using EPO and blood transfusions on the Discovery Channel team (after taking a pay cut from $200,000 as a neo-pro with Fassa Bortolo to $125k to join Armstrong's team) in 2005, only beginning to get scared of doping in 2007 when the program shifted to blood doping.
"I began to worry that my blood would be mistaken for someone else's," Danielson testified. "The more I thought about it, the more worried I became.
"I found the whole process to be almost emotionally paralyzing," he said, admitting that he got so paranoid that he began to have panic attacks and was given a sedative on the last night of the 2007 Vuelta a España.
"I continued to experience anxiety attacks and have trouble finishing well in races. As a result, I stopped doping in 2007. He then left to join Vaughters' team "where I knew I would be more comfortable competing clean."
By all accounts, Armstrong never carried such concerns. Confident in his advisor, Michele Ferrari, he by all accounts doped with abandon through his retirement in 2005, continued working with Ferrari during his retirement on plans for marathons and triathlons, and resumed his cycling program when he returned to the sport in 2009.
Why was he so confident? It could be tied to a statement by Vaughters in his under-oath testimony: "I had a conversation with Lance in which he told me that the UCI should have detected a high level of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin, a doping product and naturally occurring hormone indicative of testicular cancer in males) in his doping controls when he had cancer, and failed to do so.
- Article published:
- October 11, 2012, 04:40
- Barry Ryan
Italian explains why he rejected Manxman’s overtures
After over a decade of battling at the sharp end in bunch finishes, Alessandro Petacchi admitted that he gave serious consideration to returning his sword to his scabbard and accepting the role of Mark Cavendish’s lead-out man for the 2013 season.
The 38-year-old Petacchi eventually signed on for another season as Lampre-ISD’s lead sprinter, but only after mulling over Cavendish’s offer and the change of status it entailed. Ultimately, the move floundered over the ongoing uncertainty regarding Cavendish’s team for next season, with the Manxman still rumoured to be on the brink of leaving Sky for Omega Pharma - Quick-Step.
"I spoke a bit with Cavendish, but one of the problems was that he still didn’t know where he was going," Petacchi told Cyclingnews in Beijing. "We met at a criterium in Belgium and I asked him if these rumours about him leaving Sky were true. He told me that he might be leaving and asked me what I was doing, so I said that my contract was expiring and that we could talk if he was interested.
"I still had the intention of continuing as a rider, but if I ride, I want to ride well or at least I want to have the right stimulus. This thing intrigued me. I liked the idea, but it was going on too long and I didn’t want to cause problems for my own team by not giving them an answer to their offer."
With just three wins to his name in 2012, all outside the WorldTour, Petacchi scarcely achieved his stated aim of adding to his market value this season, and in spite of the face that he was implicated in the Padova-based doping investigation led by Benedetto Roberti in 2010, Lampre-ISD were nonetheless keen to keep the veteran onboard. When another competing offer from Liquigas-Cannondale hit complications due to uncertainty over its title sponsor for next year, Petacchi decided to stay put.
"I still hadn’t heard anything from Cavendish about his situation. At the same time I was talking with Liquigas, but there were some questions with them over their new sponsor and that was dragging on a bit," Petacchi said. "I weighed things up and in the end I figured that while I knew what I might be leaving, I didn’t know what I might be getting into. So I decided to stay where I am."
Petacchi’s career since 2010 has been overshadowed by his implication in the Padova- inquiry - after already serving suspension for a 2007 salbutamol positive, another infraction would effectively end his career - but the Italian has remained in the peloton and kept eking out victories. Most notably, he won two stages and the green jersey at the 2010 Tour de France and outwitted Cavendish himself on the opening road stage of the following year’s Giro d’Italia.
A firm advocate of Robert Millar’s maxim that a rider should never stand when he can sit down, Petacchi sought repose in the back seat of the Lampre team car as he explained why he was so tempted to sacrifice his own sprint ambitions to ride in the service of a rival.
"It’s hard to do a sprint with only one or two riders to lead you out. You risk a lot just to get a placing and maybe take a nice win every now and then," he said. "I wasn’t sure if it was worth it, which is why I could have made that choice to have less responsibility and to risk less too.
"When you’re in a lead-out train, you only have to follow your teammates, but when you’re behind, you risk more because it’s more of a fight to hold the wheels. What worries me in these situations is crashing, because you risk compromising a lot of your season. I can’t afford to be out for three months with a crash because I don’t have a lot of years ahead of me."
No matter, at the age of 39, Petacchi will again rage against the dying of the light in bunch sprints in 2013, and he is bidding to sign off on this current campaign with a win in Beijing to see him through the dark the months of winter. "A WorldTour race is always important and right now I feel ok. I haven’t done a lot of races near the end of the season but I’ve still come here pretty prepared."
- Article published:
- October 11, 2012, 05:52
- Pat Malach
US domestic professionals speak out following news
The US Anti Doping Agency's release of its “reasoned decision” in the Lance Armstrong case, coupled with multiple confessional statements from Armstrong's former US Postal teammates, caused consternation, frustration and ambivalence for some of the domestic pros who are contemporaries of the riders involved.
“It's hard to hear this, because we don't want to see our sport in the light for this,” said Brad Huff, a 33-year-old pro who started his career with Jonathan Vaughters' TIAA-CREF team and has ridden for Jelly Belly since 2008. “We want it to be in the spotlight because of amazing things like a family of Olympians, the Phinneys, [who] have this amazing son coming through the ranks, and he's winning world championships and doing it the right way. That's what we want to hear about, but the truth needs to be told.”
Six active former teammates, Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp), David Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp), Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), Michael Barry (Sky) and George Hincapie (BMC), admitted their own use of banned substances while implicating Armstrong and others on the US Postal team's staff in affidavits submitted to USADA. All of the riders received six-month bans, although both Hincapie and Barry announced they would retire this season.
Those six riders joined Frankie Andreu, Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Stephen Swart and Jonathan Vaughters as part of a 26-strong group that gave written testimonies. The evidence also includes 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 the US Postal team, according to USADA.
Kenda-5-Hour Energy's Andy Jacques-Maynes, a 34-year-old rider who turned pro in 2000, said that despite years of hearing rumors and having his own suspicions, he was still “blown away” by the USADA evidence and subsequent confessions.
“There have always been a lot of rumors,” Jacques-Maynes said. “But to have it all laid out in black and white is pretty eye opening. It's just a big realization. All these people I know, that I've talked with and that I've met and that I've raced against, they were all cheating at some point.”
Adam Myerson, the 40-year-old leader of the SmartStop-Mountain Khakis team and an outspoken anti-doping advocate, said the deal USADA cut that allows the active riders to serve part of their six-month bans during the off-season before they return to competition left him feeling strongly ambivalent.
“On one hand I believe in rewarding people for coming forward,” Myerson said. “I think it's reasonable that if someone cooperates, that they do have some reward or incentive to do so. So something less than a two-year ban may be appropriate in that case. We needed this whole crew to come forward in the way that they did if we are gonna move forward in the sport. So I think if this is the deal that was negotiated, I'm happy to see it happen.”
But Myerson said he also knows that many of the riders have benefited greatly from their past transgressions and believes they are paying a relatively light consequence for the damage they did to the sport.
“Some guys are able to retire or serve their suspension over the winter,” he said. “Why are they allowed to stay in the sport? Why can't those spots be taken up by the next generation of guys immediately? But I know we need them to repair the damage, so that's again part of my ambivalence. I want those guys to go away forever, on one hand, but I want them to be forced to essentially pay reparations to the sport on the other. I want them to be forced to stick around and repair the damage that they caused.”
Myerson said one of the ways riders from what may be cycling's dirtiest era can repair that damage is by supporting the next generation of riders and teaching them to do it the right way.
“I have a rider on the Hincapie team – a rider that I coach who is signed with the Hincapie team next year,” he said. “So for me, one of the ways that that damage can be repaid is those dollars from Hincapie being poured back into a team that specifically works with young riders and keeps them on a clean path through the sport. I want to see my rider take advantage of that opportunity. That's payback, in a sense.”
And there is a lot to repay, Meyerson said, because the use of performance enhancing drugs caused more damage than simply tarnishing cycling's image. Leipheimer, for example tested positive for ephedrine at the 1996 Elite criterium championships, which he won after lapping the field, and admitted using EPO while riding for Saturn in 1999. He won the US time trial national championship that year and signed with US Postal for the 2000 season.
“Every one of those guys took up a spot on a team,” Myerson said of the riders who admitted doping. “They took prize money and they got results. Just banning them from the sport or erasing their results from the records doesn't put money back in other people's pockets. Their doping changed people lives. It affected everyone. People missed opportunities that they would have gotten with spots on teams.”
Huff echoed Myerson's feelings of frustration, adding that if other cyclists had given in to the temptation to dope, or if none of them had doped at all, the US would have an entirely different cast of characters at the upper echelon.
“It's frustrating because the individuals who have been implicated here make – not thousands of dollars – but hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Huff said. “And other morally sound cyclists across the board and in the world make hundreds of dollars. That's where the frustrations comes.”
But with the USADA evidence being released and the growing stack of rider confessions, the truth is slowly coming out and riders who were at the top of the heap may see their stock fall as fans realize how they got there. Now it's time to focus on the future and helping the next generation of US stars to get it right. And Myerson seems hopeful.
“I think we're actually on track right now,” Myerson said. “With teams like Garmin and FDJ, which as a reputation for being a clean team, and there are plenty of other teams that have already made the commitment. So I think we just need to stay on that track.”
Huff also said he sees signs that have engendered optimism for the future, but he also believes it's not going to be easy to move forward.
“We all want a better career path,” Huff said. “We want to be able to see great new riders like Alex Howes and Jacob Rathe, who are doing it clean and have their entire lives. We want to see that. So it's going to take some huge steps from the top down. And Jonathan Vaughters, even though he's implicated in this, he's doing his best to move forward at the disgruntlement of other heads of state.”
But Jacques-Maynes may have best summed up the path to a clean future for cycling by appealing directly to the next generation and asking them to resist the pressure and temptations to find shortcuts to success.
“If there's some doping scandal with this new crop of guys, who are amazing, that would absolutely kill [US cycling],” Jacques-Maynes said. “Right now it's teetering on the edge, so they have to realize their responsibility is even greater to do it the right way. And that's my message to them: Please do it right, because the whole sport of cycling in the US is in their hands right now.”
- Article published:
- October 11, 2012, 06:53
- Barry Ryan
Frenchman flies home from Tour of Beijing after positive test
While Steve Houanard was jetting back to France from the Tour of Beijing early on Wednesday morning following the revelation of his positive test for EPO, his Ag2r La Mondiale teammates were still digesting the news as they set about trying to earn the points to guarantee the squad’s WorldTour status in 2013.
News of Houanard’s positive test had broken shortly after midnight Beijing time, and Ag2r-La Mondiale directeur sportif Julien Jurdie told Cyclingnews in Mentougou on Wednesday evening that he had waited until the morning to inform the riders.
"I didn’t talk to Steve Houanard straight away, as he was sharing a room with Mikael Cherel. As it was almost 1am, I preferred to let Mikael Cherel sleep," Jurdie said. "At 6am, I told Steve that it was a big, big mistake. I had a lot of questions, but I asked him to leave the hotel quickly as he had to catch a plane to Paris."
Houanard’s first instinct was to protest his innocence to his directeur sportif, and it is anticipated that the 24-year-old Frenchman will request an analysis of his B sample. Regardless of the outcome, Houanard had already been told that he was likely to be surplus to requirements in 2013.
"He said he was innocent and he hadn’t done anything: that’s the kind of declaration that people often make and I didn’t go into details with him," Jurdie said. "I told him that he’d made a big, big, big mistake and that now it was going to be very difficult for Ag2r-La Mondiale in the media. Innocent or not, well, we’ll see with the B sample.
"In any case, Steve won’t be part of the Ag2r team in 2013 and this is a problem that he will have to manage. I hope that there aren’t consequences for the Ag2r-La Mondiale team."
Houanard’s six remaining Ag2r-La Mondiale teammates were informed of his positive test when they awoke on Wednesday morning. "There was an enormous frustration and a lot of anger," Jurdie said. "I went to see the riders in their rooms this morning, and I saw some defeated faces. In particular, Romain Bardet was shocked. There was a lot of frustration, anger and incomprehension in the team."
Another source close to the Ag2r set-up described Houanard as a "fragile rider who is easily influenced. He gained extra kilos and then lost them again in recent months, but we never imagined he was doping."
For his part, Jurdie was looking to turn his focus towards trying to motivate his riders to continue the hunt for WorldTour points at the Tour of Beijing. Sylvain Georges and Rinaldo Nocentini were among the attackers during stage two, with the latter now lying 5th on general classification. Already under pressure to gain the points towards the sporting criteria necessary to retain their WorldTour status, Ag2r-La Mondiale’s standing in the ethical criteria will have been dealt a blow by Houanard’s positive test.
"The objective is to be among the top-five on GC to get the most WorldTour points we can. After that, it will be up to the UCI to decide on the licences for 2013," Jurdie said. "I hope that we can be among the top-15 teams on a sporting level that go before the commission. I also hope that over the last few years, the team has shown its ethical value."
- Article published:
- October 11, 2012, 07:32
- Pat Malach
Sponsor partners for Livestrong 15-year anniversary
Just hours after the US Anti Doping Agency released its reasoned decision in the Lance Armstrong case, in which 11 former teammates implicated the former US Postal team leader in a sophisticated doping program, Nike showed its continued support for the embattled cyclist by releasing the exact same statement it sent out when Armstrong chose not to contest USADA's charges back in August, according to a report by the Oregonian newspaper.
"We are saddened that Lance Armstrong may no longer be able to participate in certain competitions and his titles appear to be impacted," Nike reiterated in its statement. "Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position. Nike plans to continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a foundation that Lance created to serve cancer survivors."
That continued support for Armstrong's foundation will be highly visible on October 20 when Nike partners with Livestrong to sponsor the University of Texas' cancer awareness college football game against Baylor University, according to the Oregonian report.
The game will be part of four days of coordinated events celebrating the foundation's 15th anniversary. The second quarter will be designated the "Livestrong Quarter" after an on-field presentation by Livestrong and Nike, which created special T-shirts for the 17,000-seat student section, according to the Oregonian. Armstrong was on the Nike Corporate campus in Beaverton, Oregon, on Oct. 1 and 2 to work with designers, the newspaper also reported.