Levi Leipheimer has broken his silence since accepting a six-month ban for admitting to having used performance enhancing drugs and methods. His contract with the powerful Omega Pharma-Quickstep team was terminated in the fallout of the US Anti-Doping Agency's release of its full dossier of evidence in the case against Lance Armstrong.
In his affidavit Leipheimer testified to a number of doping-related offenses by Armstrong and team manager Johan Bruyneel and others, but also implicated himself, admitting to having used blood transfusions as recently as the 2007 Tour de France.
He lost his third place overall in that race as well as his prior results obtained from June 1, 1999 through to July 30, 2006 and from July 7 through to July 29, 2007 have been stripped.
Speaking with the Press Democrat, Leipheimer said he is still looking for a team for 2013. "I don't want to stop like this," he said.
It has undoubtedly been a difficult week for the Santa Rosa resident, who ran his Levi's Gran Fondo just days before the news came out, and who, one day before his 39th birthday next week, will debut a biopic called "The Levi Effect" in US theaters. Through it all, he has had the support of his friends, which he said "means the world to me right now.
"I wouldn't have been able to make it through all this without their support."
Leipheimer admitted in his testimony that he began doping with EPO while racing with the domestic Saturn team in 1999, in the year prior to being signed by Armstrong's US Postal Service team. He continued using the drugs until anti-doping controls were developed to detect it, then switched to blood doping.
It was a way of life he said, in retrospect, "seemed far-fetched, surreal."
Like many riders of his era, who faced rampant oxygen-vector doping in the peloton, he justified his doping by saying it was a choice between living his dream or regretting it.
"Do I make this decision to dope and continue to see how far I can go?," he asked himself at the time. "Or do I regret it for the rest of my life because I didn't find out how good I was. It was damned if you do, damned if you don't."
Leipheimer insists that he quit doping after the 2007 season and that his subsequent results were obtained clean. "The Tour of California, the bronze medal in the Olympic Games, second place in the (Spanish) Vuelta because those are the results I am proud of because they came with a huge sense of relief."