Lance Armstrong’s reputation lies in tatters after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) labelled him a “serial” cheat who led “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.
Usada has already banned the 41-year-old American for life and stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles.
But now it has detailed why it took such action, using evidence from 11 of Armstrong’s former team-mates.
Armstrong has always denied doping.
But the Texan has not contested Usada’s charges. His lawyer has described Usada’s report as a “one-sided hatchet job”.
A tabloid piece Sean Breen called it a “taxpayer-funded tabloid piece rehashing old, disproved, unreliable allegations based largely on axe-grinders, serial perjurers, coerced testimony, sweetheart deals and threat-induced stories”.
The only apparent reaction from Armstrong himself came in the form of a tweet which read: “What am I doing tonight? Hanging with my family, unaffected and thinking about this,” with a link to his Livestrong website.
In a statement accompanying its report, Usada chief executive Travis T Tygart said there was “conclusive and undeniable proof” that Armstrong was a cheat who was at the heart of a team-run doping conspiracy.
The report has been sent to the International Cycling Union (UCI), the World Anti-Doping Agency and the World Triathlon Corporation.
In it, Usada says it has “found proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Armstrong engaged in serial cheating through the use, administration and trafficking of performance-enhancing drugs and methods that Armstrong participated in running in the US Postal Service Team as a doping conspiracy”.
It added that his goal of winning the Tour de France multiple times “led him to depend on EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions but also, more ruthlessly, to expect and to require that his team-mates would likewise use drugs to support his goals if not their own”.
Team doping culture
It continued: “It was not enough that his team-mates give maximum effort on the bike, he also required that they adhere to the doping programme outlined for them or be replaced.
“He was not just a part of the doping culture on his team, he enforced and re-enforced it. Armstrong and his co-conspirators sought to achieve their ambitions through a massive fraud, now more fully exposed. So ends one of the most sordid chapters in sports history.”
British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford described the report as “jaw dropping”.
He said he was staggered by the extent of the systemic doping revealed and told BBC Radio 5 live: “It is shocking, it’s jaw dropping and it is very unpleasant. It’s not very palatable and anybody who says it is would be lying, wouldn’t they?”
Evidence ‘beyond salvage’
The UCI now has 21 days to decide whether to appeal against or comply with Usada’s decision to strip Armstrong, who now competes in triathlons, of his Tour de France titles and ban him for life.
Armstrong, who overcame cancer to return to professional cycling, won the Tour from 1999 to 2005. He retired in 2005 but returned in 2009 before retiring for good two years later.
Usada claims the evidence against Armstrong was “beyond strong” and stretched to more than 1 000 pages, including sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the US Postal Service Team and the doping activities of its members. —BBCOnline.