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USADA chief aims to protect witnesses

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It may not be the Tour de France but Armstrong still has a bodyguard at his side.

It may not be the Tour de France but Armstrong still has a bodyguard at his side. (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Armstrong leads Hamilton in the 2003 Tour de France

Armstrong leads Hamilton in the 2003 Tour de France (Image credit: AFP)
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(Image credit: USADA)

In response to today's reports that named current professional racers as witnesses in the US Anti Doping Agency's case against Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel, Michele Ferrari and three other team doctors and staff, USADA chief Travis Tygart has decried attempts to reveal the names of the witnesses upon whose testimony his agency is making a large part of its case.

"USADA's investigation into doping in the sport of cycling continues. No individual cases have been finalized, and any attempt to guess at whom potential witnesses might be only leads to inaccurate information being reported and subjects those named to unnecessary scrutiny, threats and intimidation," Tygart said in a statement.

USADA has gone to lengths to keep witness identities secret for their own safety, because in a case so incendiary it is not just the defendants whose lives and reputations are at stake. Last year after Tyler Hamilton went on the television news magazine 60 Minutes with allegations against Armstrong, he was later approached by the seven-time Tour de France winner and reportedly intimidated by Armstrong. The case was referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Last weekend, reports surfaced that USADA members suspect the Armstrong camp has hired private investigators to follow them, and Armstrong said to ABC News, "USADA continues to sacrifice the values of fair play which is what, ironically, they claim to be attempting to protect," while simultaneously accusing a review board member of having allegations of sexual misconduct in his past.

While Armstrong accuses Tygart of carrying out a "personal vendetta" in the case, Tygart and his agency insist they are simply doing the job which they have been tasked with.

"It is important to remember that the truth would often be suppressed without witnesses who at great cost to themselves are willing to tell the truth under oath about what they saw and experienced, and any attempt to circumvent the proper procedures in order to bully or silence people who may or may not be witnesses cannot be tolerated."

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