David Zalubowski, File, Associated Press
Page after page of damning details.
They came from computer records, books, media reports and, maybe most significantly, the people Lance Armstrong used to train alongside and celebrate with. The people he used to call his friends.
Hit with a lifetime ban and the loss of all seven of his Tour de France titles, Armstrong challenged the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to give him the names of all his accusers. The agency obliged, listing 26, including 11 former teammates.
Armstrong said he wanted to see the hard evidence that he was a doper, and USADA gave him that, too, in the form of a 200-page tome filled with vivid recollections — the hotel rooms riders transformed into makeshift blood-transfusion centers, the way Armstrong's former wife rolled cortisone pills into foil and handed them out to the cyclists.
The report, released Wednesday, depicts what USADA chief Travis Tygart called "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."
Armstrong's attorney called it a "one-sided hatchet job."
Either way, it serves up the most detailed, unflinching portrayal yet of Armstrong as a man who would pay virtually any price — financially, emotionally and physically — to win the seven Tour de France titles that the anti-doping agency has ordered taken away.
It presents as matter-of-fact reality that winning and doping went hand-in-hand in cycling and that Armstrong was the focal point of a big operation, running teams that were the best at getting it done without getting caught. Armstrong won the Tour as leader of the U.S. Postal Service team from 1999-2004 and again in 2005 with the Discovery Channel as the primary sponsor.
USADA said the path Armstrong chose to pursue his goals "ran far outside the rules."
It accuses him of depending on performance-enhancing drugs to fuel his victories and "more ruthlessly, to expect and to require that his teammates" do the same. Among the 11 former teammates who testified against Armstrong are George Hincapie, Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis.
In a letter sent to USADA attorneys Tuesday, Armstrong's attorney, Tim Herman, dismissed any evidence provided by Landis and Hamilton, saying the riders are "serial perjurers and have told diametrically contradictory stories under oath."
Aware of the criticism his agency has faced from Armstrong and his legion of followers, Tygart insisted his group handled this case under the same rules as any other. Armstrong was given the chance to take his case to arbitration and declined, choosing in August to accept the sanctions instead, Tygart noted.
"We focused solely on finding the truth without being influenced by celebrity or non-celebrity, threats, personal attacks or political pressure because that is what clean athletes deserve and demand," Tygart said.
The report called the evidence "as strong or stronger than any case brought in USADA's 12 years of existence."
The testimony of Hincapie, one of Armstrong's closest and most loyal teammates through the years, was one of the report's new revelations.
"I would have been much more comfortable talking only about myself, but understood that I was obligated to tell the truth about everything I knew. So that is what I did," Hincapie said of his testimony to federal investigators and USADA.
His two-page statement did not mention Armstrong by name. Neither did statements from three other teammates-turned-witnesses, all of whom said this was a difficult-but-necessary process.
"I have failed and I have succeeded in one of the most humbling sports in the world," former Armstrong teammate Christian Vande Velde said. "And today is the most humbling moment of my life."
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