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Levi Leipheimer (US Postal) at the 2001 Vuelta a Espana
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."