• Cycling

USADA: Lance doped during comeback

ESPN staff
January 28, 2013 « Etim: Renee Forte gets punished at Wembley Arena | Chartbeat test »

Lance Armstrong was doping after his return to cycling in 2009 and offered the United States Anti-Doping Agency money to bury their investigation into the disgraced cyclist and his United States Postal Service team, according to the agency's chief executive Travis Tygart.

The head of USADA stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles along with all results dating back to 1998 and banned him from cycling for life after exposing what it described as "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

Armstrong, who retired after claiming his seventh Yellow Jersey in 2005, insisted that he had not doped on his return to the sport in 2009-10 during his confessional interview with Oprah Winfrey, but Tygart says they have scientific proof that fails to support that claim.

Speaking on CBS's 60 Minutes, Tygart said that Armstrong's claims were "just contrary to the evidence.

"The evidence is clear. His blood tests in 2009, 2010, expert reports based on the variation of his blood values from those tests, [make it a] one-to-a-million chance that it was due to something other than doping."

Tygart remains convinced that Armstrong had influence over the International Cycling Union that protected him from being exposed as a doper, something both parties have denied.

"I think their involvement was a lot deeper in him pulling off this heist than he was willing to admit to," Tygart said, before revealing that Armstrong had attempted to pay off USADA in a bid to quash the allegations, which Armstrong also denies.

"I received a phone call from one of his closest associates and they offered us the money," Tygart added.

USADA has offered Armstrong a deadline of February 6 to agree to a full confession under oath that might open the door to a return to the sport in the future, but Tygart believes Armstrong's claims of innocence are designed to avoid the possibility of criminal prosecution, because there is a five-year statute in fraud cases.

"He would have to come in just like all 11 of his team-mates did and testify truthfully about all of those who were involved with him pulling off this grand heist," Tygart said.

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