USADA Releases USPS Team Doping Statement, Most Athletes ‘Fess Up w/ Full Statements
The USADA has released their full statement on the U.S. Postal Service Team doping conspiracy and it names names. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, most of the team members have participated willingly in the investigation and admitted to doping and facilitating the coverup.
One nice touch to Travis Tygart’s statement is his call to the UCI to move forward with their own “Truth & Reconciliation” program to encourage riders to come forward and both shine a light on inappropriate past actions and help everyone move forward without completely destroying their professional career.
You can download the 200+ page document outlining the team investigation and scandal here.
The USADA’s Travis Tygart’s full statement is posted after the break, followed by several of the athletes’ statements, including George Hincapie, Dave Zabriskie, Levi Leipheimer and more…
USADA PRESS RELEASE: Today, we are sending the ‘Reasoned Decision’ in the Lance Armstrong case and supporting information to the Union Cycliste International (UCI), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC). The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.
The evidence of the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team-run scheme is overwhelming and is in excess of 1000 pages, and includes sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the US Postal Service Team (USPS Team) and its participants’ doping activities. The evidence also includes direct documentary evidence including financial payments, emails, scientific data and laboratory test results that further prove the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong and confirm the disappointing truth about the deceptive activities of the USPS Team, a team that received tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars in funding.
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 professionalized team-run doping conspiracy. All of the material will be made available later this afternoon on the USADA website at www.usada.org.
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. A program organized by individuals who thought they were above the rules and who still play a major and active role in sport today.
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. 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.
Of course, no one wants to be chained to the past forever, and I would call on the UCI to act on its own recent suggestion for a meaningful Truth and Reconciliation program. While we appreciate the arguments that weigh in favor of and against such a program, we believe that allowing individuals like the riders mentioned today to come forward and acknowledge the truth about their past doping may be the only way to truly dismantle the remaining system that allowed this “EPO and Blood Doping Era” to flourish. Hopefully, the sport can unshackle itself from the past, and once and for all continue to move forward to a better future.
Our mission is to protect clean athletes by preserving the integrity of competition not only for today’s athletes but also the athletes of tomorrow. We have heard from many athletes who have faced an unfair dilemma — dope, or don’t compete at the highest levels of the sport. Many of them abandoned their dreams and left sport because they refused to endanger their health and participate in doping. That is a tragic choice no athlete should have to make.
It took tremendous courage for the riders on the USPS Team and others to come forward and speak truthfully. It is not easy to admit your mistakes and accept your punishment. But that is what these riders have done for the good of the sport, and for the young riders who hope to one day reach their dreams without using dangerous drugs or methods.
These eleven (11) teammates of Lance Armstrong, in alphabetical order, are 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 riders who participated in the USPS Team doping conspiracy and truthfully assisted have been courageous in making the choice to stop perpetuating the sporting fraud, and they have suffered greatly. In addition to the public revelations, the active riders have been suspended and disqualified appropriately in line with the rules. In some part, it would have been easier for them if it all would just go away; however, they love the sport, and they want to help young athletes have hope that they are not put in the position they were — to face the reality that in order to climb to the heights of their sport they had to sink to the depths of dangerous cheating.
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.
Instead he exercised his legal right not to contest the evidence and knowingly accepted the imposition of a ban from recognized competition for life and disqualification of his competitive results from 1998 forward. The entire factual and legal basis on the outcome in his case and the other six active riders’ cases will be provided in the materials made available online later today. Two other members of the USPS Team, Dr. Michele Ferrari and Dr. Garcia del Moral, also received lifetime bans for perpetrating this doping conspiracy.
Three other members of the USPS Team have chosen to contest the charges and take their cases to arbitration: Johan Bruyneel, the team director; Dr. Pedro Celaya, a team doctor; and Jose “Pepe” Marti, the team trainer. These three individuals will receive a full hearing before independent judges, where they will have the opportunity to present and confront the evidence, cross-examine witnesses and testify under oath in a public proceeding.
From day one in this case, as in every potential case, the USADA Board of Directors and professional staff did the job we are mandated to do for clean athletes and the integrity of sport. 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.”
LEVI LEIPHEIMER: “Today, I accept responsibility and Usada’s sanctions for participating in the dirty past of cycling. I’ve been racing clean for more than 5 years in a changed and much cleaner sport. I hope that my admission will help to make these changes permanent.
“Until recently—or maybe even until today—when people thought about doping, they thought about a guy, by himself, using banned substances to get ahead. What people didn’t realize—what I didn’t realize until after I was already committed to this career—was that doping was organized and everywhere in the peloton. Doping wasn’t the exception, it was the norm
“I don’t want today’s 13 year olds to be discouraged by their parents from dreaming about one day riding the Tour de France.”
Excerpted from full article in the Wall Street Journal.
GEORGE HINCAPIE: For over 30 years I have dedicated my life to cycling. I have always been determined to compete at the highest level, in one of the most physically demanding sports. With hard work and success have come great blessings from the sport I love.
Teammates have become dear friends and I have worked hard to earn the respect of my competitors. I have been associated with managers and team officials whose professionalism is unparalleled. Wonderful fans have supported my family and me since I began this great journey. For all of this and more, I am truly grateful and proud.
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 apologize to my family, teammates and fans.
Quietly, and in the way I know best, I have been trying to rectify that decision. I have competed clean and have not used any performance enhancing drugs or processes for the past six years. Since 2006, I have been working hard within the sport of cycling to rid it of banned substances. 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.
About two years ago, I was approached by US Federal investigators, and more recently by USADA, and asked to tell of my personal experience in these matters. 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.
Cycling has made remarkable gains over the past several years and can serve as a good example for other sports. Thankfully, the use of performance enhancing drugs is no longer embedded in the culture of our sport, and younger riders are not faced with the same choice we had.
I am proud to be part of the cycling community, and believe we continue to make positive changes to our sport. I applaud the extraordinary achievements of my fellow riders on and off the bike. Cycling is an incredible sport that not only requires unbelievable physical ability to ride hundreds of miles a day for many days on end; it also requires a certain type of dedication, ambition and character. I have been fortunate to compete with teammates whose commitment and talent will be hard to match. As a rider I have dedicated a large part of my career to helping those teammates succeed. 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.
CHRISTIAN VANDE VELDE: I love cycling, it is and always has been a huge part of who I am. As the son of a track cycling Olympian I was practically born on the bike and my dream, ever since I can remember, was always to be a professional cyclist. I have failed and I have succeeded in one of the most humbling sports in the world. And today is the most humbling moment of my life.
As a young pro rider I competed drug free, not winning but holding my own and achieving decent results. Then, one day, I was presented with a choice that to me, at the time, seemed like the only way to continue to follow my dream at the highest level of the sport. I gave in and crossed the line, a decision that I deeply regret. I was wrong to think I didn’t had a choice – the fact is that I did, and I chose wrong. I won races before doping and after doping. Ironically, I never won while doping, I was more or less just treading water. This does not make it ok. I saw the line and I crossed it, myself. I am deeply sorry for the decisions I made in the past — to my family, my fans, my peers, to the sport that I love and those in and out of it – I’m sorry. I always will be.
I decided to change what I was doing and started racing clean again well before Slipstream, but I chose to come to Slipstream because I believed in its unbending mission of clean sport. Today, I am proud of the steps that I and cycling have have made to improve the future of the sport that I love so much. I am proud to be a part of an organization that implemented a no-needle policy. I am proud that I published my blood values for all of the world to see after almost reaching the podium at the 2008 Tour de France; showing first and foremost myself that it was possible to and then, confirming it for the rest of the world. I continue to be proud of the strides the sport has taken to clean itself up, and the actions our organization has taken to help shape the sport that I love.
We’re in a good place now, young riders of the new generation have not had to face the choices that I did, and this needs to continue. By looking at the mistakes of cycling’s history, we have an opportunity to continue to shape its future.
I’m very sorry for the mistakes I made in my past and I know that forgiveness is a lot to ask for. I know that I have to earn it and I will try, every day, to deserve it – as I have, every day, since making the choice to compete clean. I will never give up on this sport, and I will never stop fighting for its future.
TOM DANIELSON: I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a professional cyclist. It has always been my dream. Along the road to following my dream, I’ve had several ups and downs, but I stuck with it because I love the sport. I never set out thinking I would cross a line, I set out simply wanting to compete, to race my bike and do what I love. And that is exactly what I did, clean. Then, after years of doing things the right way, I was presented with a choice that to me, did not feel like a choice at all. In the environment that I was in, it felt like something I had to do in order to continue following my dream. I crossed the line and that is something I will always be sorry for. I accept responsibility for my choices and apologize to everyone in my life for them—in and out of the sport.
When I heard about the team Jonathan Vaughters was creating, I knew that his team was exactly what cycling needed—it was exactly what I needed and I wanted to be a part of it. Even though I made the choice to compete clean before Slipstream’s inception, I’ve seen both worlds, and I believe that today, cycling is in a good place, and that organizations like Slipstream have helped change the sport. I believe, too, that it’s time to confront cycling’s past, so that we can continue to build its future. That’s what I’ve done, and I promise it’s what I’ll continue to do.
DAVE ZABRISKIE: Cycling was a refuge for me. Long, hard training rides were cathartic and provided an escape from the difficult home life associated with a parent with an addiction. My father had a long history of substance use and addiction. Seeing what happened to my father from his substance abuse, I vowed never to take drugs. I viewed cycling as a healthy and wholesome outlet that would keep me far away from a world I abhorred.
In 1996, soon after joining a local cycling club and winning a state championship, I qualified to participate in training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. After winning the GP Des Nation under 23 category in 2000, I was invited onto a pro-level team. Ironically, the sport I had turned to for escaping drugs turned out to be rampant with doping. I chose not to focus on that. I was young, everyone was telling me I had a great future – and I knew I could do it clean. From the beginning, I always had.
After distinguishing myself in an important race, management presented me with drugs and instructed me on how to proceed. I was devastated. I was shocked. I had never used drugs and never intended to. I questioned, I resisted, but in the end, I felt cornered and succumbed to the pressure. After one week I stopped. I subsequently succumbed in less than a handful of confined instances never making it a systematic part of my training practices or race routines. But it happened and I couldn’t be sorrier. It was a violation – a violation not only of the code I was subject to, but my personal and moral compass that I had set out to follow. I accept full responsibility and was happy to come forward and tell USADA my whole story; I want to do my share to help bring this entire issue to the fore and ensure a safe, healthy, and clean future for cycling.
I returned to being 100% clean long before the Anti-Doping Commitment was issued for riders to sign in 2007. I was one of the first to sign. I embraced complete transparency. When Slipstream surfaced I was eager to join for all that it stands for and its unwavering commitment to clean cycling. I only wish a team like this had existed when I was a neo pro. Cycling started out as a refuge for me and I want to play my part in making it the sport I had always hoped it would be and know that it can be.