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The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a report naming accusers of seven-time
AP National Writer
Lance Armstrong said he wanted to see the names of his accusers. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency gave him 26, including 11 ex-teammates.
The world's most famous cyclist said he wanted to see the hard evidence that he was a doper. The agency gave him that, too: about 200 pages filled with vivid details--from the hotel rooms riders transformed into makeshift blood-transfusion centers to the way Armstrong's ex-wife rolled cortisone pills into foil and handed them out to all the cyclists.
In all, a USADA report released Wednesday gives the most detailed, unflinching portrayal yet of Armstrong as a man who, day after day, week after week, year after year, spared no expense--financially, emotionally or 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 to 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.
USADA Chief Executive Travis Tygart said the cyclists were part of "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen." Armstrong did not fight the USADA charges, but insists he never cheated.
His attorney, Tim Herman, called the report "a one-sided hatchet job--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."
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, he 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."
In a letter sent to USADA attorneys Tuesday, Herman dismissed any evidence provided by Landis and Hamilton, saying the riders are "serial perjurers and have told diametrically contradictory stories under oath."
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.
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.
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," Christian 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.