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Armstrong files released by USADA

ESPN staff
October 10, 2012 « Anderson Silva: Bonnar won't stop my winning run | Chartbeat test »

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) is set to release more than 1,000 pages of evidence that prompted its decision to strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and ban him from cycling and elite sport for life.

The sworn testimonies of 26 individuals, including 11 former team-mates - many named for the first time - as well as financial statements and emails detail the most "sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme" in the sport's history, and will be supported by a 200-page statement from USADA explaining its decision.

Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie all testified against Armstrong, who announced his decision to forego his right to defend himself in August prior to the completion of the investigation while still protesting his innocence. Armstrong has consistently denied ever using performance enhancing substances or methods.

Those riders still in competition have been suspended for their part in the doping conspiracy, though the bans are expected to be shorter in recognition of their efforts to support the anti-doping campaign.

Hincapie, a key team-mate of Armstrong's during his time on the US Postal Service team and one of the most successful American riders in history, released a statement shortly after the announcement, revealing his role in the investigation.

The Team BMC rider, who admitted to doping until 2006, was first approached by Federal and USADA agents investigating doping in cycling three years ago. "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, who retired in August, said.

He later addressed his own wrongdoing, saying on his personal website: "Because of my love for the sport, the contributions I feel I have made to it, and the amount the sport of cycling has given to me over the years, it is extremely difficult today to acknowledge that during a part of my career I used banned substances.

"Early in my professional career, it became clear to me that, given the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete at the highest level without them. I deeply regret that choice and sincerely apologise to my family, team-mates and fans.

"Quietly, and in the way I know best, I have been trying to rectify that decision. During this time, I continued to successfully compete at the highest level of cycling while mentoring young professional riders on the right choices to make to ensure that the culture of cycling had changed.

"As I begin the next chapter in my cycling life, I look forward to playing a significant part in developing, encouraging and helping young riders to compete and win with the best in the world."

Barry, who will retire at the end of the 2012 season, also made a confession, saying on his website: "After being encouraged by the team, pressured to perform and pushed to my physical limits I crossed a line I promised myself and others I would not: I doped.

"It was a decision I deeply regret. It caused me sleepless nights, took the fun out of cycling and racing, and tainted the success I achieved at the time. This was not how I wanted to live or race. I apologise to those I deceived. I will accept my suspension and any other consequences. I will work hard to regain people's trust."

Tim Herman, a member of Armstrong's legal team, has accused USADA of conducting a witch hunt in its pursuit of the winner of seven Tour de France yellow jerseys. "There is no better example of that targeting and selective, self-serving prosecution than the fact that USADA picked and charged only one athlete, Armstrong, out of a multitude in the alleged 10 plus year multi-team, multi-country conspiracy," Herman said.

But USADA chief executive Travis Tygart insists that Armstrong was in no way targeted for any other reason than he was suspected of doping, and was offered the chance for a fair and thorough hearing. "Lance Armstrong was given the same opportunity to come forward and be part of the solution," said Tygart. "He rejected it.

"It took tremendous courage for the riders on the USPS Team and others to come forward and speak truthfully," Tygart added. "It is not easy to admit your mistakes and accept your punishment."

The Union Cycliste Internationale, cycling's governing body, requested an explanation from USADA for the charges handed to the sport's biggest star after questioning its jurisdiction over the results of the Tour de France. The 200-page report will carry extensive details about his and his team's doping practices.

"The USPS Team doping conspiracy was professionally designed to groom and pressure athletes to use dangerous drugs, to evade detection, to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair competitive advantage through superior doping practices," Tygart added.

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