Armstrong myth ripped to shreds

WASHINGTON: Lance  Armstrong was at the heart of the biggest doping conspiracy in sports history when he won the Tour de France seven years in a row, a US Anti-Doping Agency report said on Wednesday.

The agency (USADA) submitted a report to the International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on why it banned Armstrong for life in August, and released more than 1000 pages of evidence from its probe of doping in cycling.

‘‘Lance Armstrong did not merely use performance-enhancing drugs. He supplied them to his teammates,’’ the report said.

‘‘He was not just a part of the doping culture on his team. 

‘‘He enforced and re-enforced it.’’

Evidence included testimony from 11 of Armstrong’s former US Postal cycling teammates, an expert’s finding that Armstrong’s blood changes indicated doping and documents showing a payment to doping-linked doctor Michele Ferrari.

‘‘The evidence of the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team-run scheme is overwhelming,’’ USADA chief executive Travis T Tygart said.

‘‘The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.’’

Eyewitness testimony of Armstrong taking EPO and testosterone and having blood transfusions came from such former teammates as Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis, admitted dope cheats, and George Hincapie, who confessed on Wednesday that he took performance-enhancing drugs.

Other former Armstrong teammates who testified include Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.

Tygart said the program was designed to evade detection as well as pressure athletes into taking drugs and maintaining a ‘‘code of silence’’ about their activities.

‘‘We hope the sport will use this tragedy to prevent it from ever happening again,’’ Tygart said.

USADA also cited e-mails, scientific data and financial records, including more than $1million in documented payments from Armstrong to a Swiss company run by Ferrari, who purportedly advised him on doping.

A medical expert said changes in Armstrong’s red- blood-cell count between samples taken at the 2009 and 2010 Tour de France races and during his earlier run of victories would naturally occur in less than one person in a million.

‘‘The evidence in the case is beyond strong,’’ the report said.

‘‘It is as strong as – or stronger than – that presented in any case brought by USADA.’’ 

AFP

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