/ Cycling

Lance Armstrong's US Postal team ran 'most sophisticated doping programme that sport has ever seen'

Updated: Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 21:10 | Comments

Lance Armstrong part of ' sustained and highly professionalised team-run doping conspiracy'
Lance Armstrong part of ' sustained and highly professionalised team-run doping conspiracy'

Lance Armstrong's US Postal team ran the most sophisticated doping programme that sport has ever seen, according to a new report by the US Anti-Doping Agency.

The USADA report runs to more than 1,000 pages and contains the sworn testimony of 26 people, including 15 riders.

Among those who gave sworn evidence were 11 of Armstrong's teammates - Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.

"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," USADA said in a statement.

USADA said the report was constructed from direct documentary evidence - including financial payments, emails, scientific data and laboratory test results.

It says the document "proves the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong."

40-year-old Armstrong was stripped of his record seven Tour de France wins last month and handed a lifetime ban by USADA after indicating he would not challenge charges that he had doped throughout his career. He has always denied doping.

"USPS Team doping conspiracy was professionally designed to groom and pressure athletes to use dangerous drugs" - Travis T Tygart

USADA said it would be sending its "reasoned decision" in the Armstrong case to the International Cycling Union, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the World Triathlon Corporation.

In a statement this evening, USADA CEO Travis T Tygart said the USPS 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."

He said the doping programme was designed by individuals who thought they were above the rules and who still play a major and active role in sport today.

Tygart said today's report represented "conclusive and undeniable proof" of a team-run doping conspiracy.

"I have personally talked with and heard these athletes’ stories and firmly believe that, collectively, these athletes, if forgiven and embraced, have a chance to leave a legacy far greater for the good of the sport than anything they ever did on a bike.

"Lance Armstrong was given the same opportunity to come forward and be part of the solution.

"He rejected it."

Armstrong's lawyers have repeatedly attacked the credibility of USADA's case, describing the proceedings as a "kangaroo court" and a "witch hunt" on the eve of today's release.

"USADA has continued its efforts to coerce and manufacture evidence from other riders through threats and sweetheart deals and generated self-serving media coverage through leaks and piecemeal release of tired, disproven allegations," Armstrong's attorney, Timothy J. Herman, wrote in a letter to USADA.

"This reasoned decision will be a farce... while USADA can put lipstick on a pig, it still remains a pig."

Several former teammates have already spoken out publicly against Armstrong - but USADA today named all 11 for the first time on Wednesday.

"The evidence demonstrates that the 'Code of Silence' of performance enhancing drug use in the sport of cycling has been shattered, but there is more to do," USADA said.

"From day one, we always hoped this investigation would bring to a close this troubling chapter in cycling's history and we hope the sport will use this tragedy to prevent it from ever happening again," it added.

"Together these different categories of eyewitness, documentary, first-hand, scientific, direct and circumstantial evidence reveal conclusive and undeniable proof that brings to the light of day for the first time this systemic, sustained and highly professionalised team-run doping conspiracy."

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