26 testify against Lance Armstrong in doping case

Ex-teammates interviewed include Levi Leipheimer, David Zabriskie

By Eddie Pells

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 10 2012 2:31 p.m. MDT

Tygart said evidence from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the U.S. Postal Service team's doping activities, provided material for the report. The agency also interviewed Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie. Andreu's wife, Betsy, was another key witness. She has been one of Armstrong's most consistent and unapologetic critics.

"It took tremendous courage for the riders on the USPS Team and others to come forward and speak truthfully," Tygart said.

In some ways, the USADA report simply pulls together and amplifies allegations that have followed Armstrong ever since he beat cancer and won the Tour for the first time. At various times and in different forums, Landis, Hamilton and others have said that Armstrong encouraged doping on his team and used banned substances himself.

Written in a more conversational style than a typical legal document, the report lays out in chronological order, starting in 1998 and running through 2009:

— Multiple examples of Armstrong using multiple drugs, including the blood-boosting hormone EPO, citing the "clear finding" of EPO in six blood samples from the 1999 Tour de France that were retested. UCI concluded those samples were mishandled and couldn't be used to prove anything. In bringing up the samples, USADA said it considers them corroborating evidence that isn't even necessary given the testimony of its witnesses.

— Testimony from Hamilton, Landis and Hincapie, all of whom say they received EPO from Armstrong.

— Evidence of the pressure Armstrong put on the riders to go along with the doping program.

"The conversation left me with no question that I was in the doghouse and that the only way forward with Armstrong's team was to get fully on Dr. Ferrari's doping program," Vande Velde testified.

— What Vaughters called "an outstanding early warning system regarding drug tests." One example came in 2000, when Hincapie found out there were drug testers at the hotel where Armstrong's team was staying. Aware Armstrong had taken testosterone before the race, Hincapie alerted him and Armstrong dropped out of the race to avoid being tested, the report said.

Though she didn't testify, Armstrong's ex-wife, Kristin, is mentioned 30 times in the report.

In one episode, Armstrong asks her to wrap banned cortisone pills in foil to hand out to his teammates.

"Kristin obliged Armstrong's request by wrapping the pills and handing them to the riders. One of the riders remarked, 'Lance's wife is rolling joints,'" the report read. Attempts to reach Kristin Armstrong were unsuccessful.

While the arguments about Armstrong will continue among sports fans — and there is still a question of whether USADA or the International Cycling Union (UCI) has the ultimate authority to take away his Tour titles — the new report puts a cap on a long round of official investigations. Armstrong was cleared of criminal charges in February after a federal grand jury probe that lasted about two years.

UCI confirmed receiving the report and said it would respond to it soon, "not to delay matters any longer than necessary." It has 21 days to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The head of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Doug Ulman, lauded Armstrong's work as a cancer fighter. Armstrong won all his titles after overcoming testicular cancer.

"Our longstanding concerns about the impartiality and fairness of USADA's proceeding are compounded today," Ulman said. "As a federal judge pointed out, USADA appears motivated more by publicity rather than fulfilling its mission."

Some of the newest information — never spelled out in detail before Wednesday — includes a depiction of Armstrong's continuing relationship with physician and training guru Michele Ferrari. Like Armstrong, Ferrari has received a lifetime ban from USADA.

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