October 14, 2012
The fallout from the Lance Armstrong doping controversy is continuing to grow and affect more people. The USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) announced on Oct. 10 that the 41-year-old seven-time Tour de France winner was a part of the sports world’s ’ most sophisticated drug cheating program. The organization released a detailed report on its findings and said 11 of Armstrong’s teammates gave evidence against him and others admitted to using illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
The USADA banned the cyclist for life back in August, but Armstrong, even though the evidence is all stacked against him, says he never cheated and has never failed a drug test. At that time, Armstrong said he was simply giving up in the fight to clear his name. The new report was shipped off to the UCI (International Cycling Union) WTC (World Triathlon Corporation), and WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). In total, the report includes the testimony of 15 professional cyclists, 11 other people, and is over 1,000 pages in length.
The evidence reportedly includes emails, financial payments, laboratory test results, and other types of scientific data which proves that Armstrong took illegal substances while cycling for the USPS Team, which raked in millions of dollars in funding from American taxpayers. One of his teammates, George Hincapie, admitted to cheating and said he certainly wasn’t the only one. Michael Barry, another teammate, said the cycling team pressured him into taking banned substances.
However, as the evidence continues to grow, Armstrong and his lawyers continue to deny it and said it’s all been manufactured against him and doesn’t prove anything. However, those cyclists who gave evidence against Armstrong have also sullied their own names and will now have to pay the price for it, making it unlikely that they fabricated anything.
The UCI isn’t too happy with the USADA because it feels the American anti-doping organization should have released the findings of its investigation a lot sooner. The cycling group also has the power to appeal Armstrong’s ban within 21 days, but it hasn’t made a decision on that yet. The latest news reports state that Armstrong might take a lie detector test to clear his name, but experts say polygraph tests aren’t 100 per cent accurate.
Tim Herman, his lawyer, admitted that a lie detector test probably wouldn’t change the public’s opinion of Armstrong at this stage, especially knowing that lie detectors can’t be relied on. However, he feels the 26 people who testified against Armstrong should also take a polygraph test if Armstrong decides to. Some of those who gave evidence against the American cyclist are taking their lumps now because of the accusations.
Matt White of Australia admitted to illegal doping while riding along with Armstrong as a member of the USPS team. He has now resigned as the sports director of Orica-GreenEDGE. He released a statement that said doping was a normal part of the team’s activity. The 38-year-old added that he’s voluntarily resigning from his job with Cycling Australia as well as the GreenEDGE Cycling position. White said cycling has changed a lot though since the days Armstrong was its top draw and it’s a lot cleaner sport than it used to be.
Another victim of the fallout is Johan Bruyneel, who is Armstrong’s former manager. The native of Belgium resigned from his job with RadioShack Nissan on Oct. 12 after he was implicated in the doping scandal by the USADA. Bruyneel was an owner of the RadioShack cycling team and they came to a mutual agreement which led him to his resignation. In addition, Fabian Cancellara, one of the team’s best cyclists, said he might quit the team due to Bruyneel’s association with illegal doping. However, he won’t have to worry about it now with Bruyneel stepping down.
Punishment was also handed down in a more formal way to five American competitors who provided testimony against Armstrong as they all admitted to cheating themselves. USA Cycling announced on Oct. 11 that the cyclists have all been hit with six-month suspensions from the sport. These are George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Tom Danielson, David Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde. They got off lightly as a part of a plea-bargain deal with the USADA in exchange for their sworn testimony. Their cycling results will also be stricken for the time period they admitted to cheating. All five are Armstrong’s former teammates.
But even though Armstrong and his former teammates are being suspended and stripped of titles, it looks like he may get to keep his bronze medal from the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) announced that it’s too early to take any action against Armstrong. The committee said it’s going to look over the USADA report and if it finds overwhelming evidence against Armstrong then it will act accordingly. Armstrong took the bronze during the Olympic time trial.
The WADA also said it’s will review the USADA report and praised the American agency for trying to keep cycling and other sports free from illegal drug use. It appears that many people have already made up their minds though about Armstrong’s alleged drug use and he wasn’t allowed to enter the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 7. Armstrong had planned on running in the event to raise money for his Livestrong cancer charity.
It was reported that Armstrong lost the right to participate in top-class athletic events such as the Chicago Marathon when he decided not to contest the charges against him. A spokesperson for the marathon said Armstrong didn’t submit a formal participation registration, but the event doesn’t allow suspended athletes to enter USA Track and Field sanctioned events.
If Armstrong’s seven straight Tour de France wins are officially wiped from the record book, race officials said it’s doubtful that the second place finishers will be given the titles and they’ll just be left blank for those years. The reason for this is that so many cyclists were doping up in that era that the second-place riders could also have taken banned substances. Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing just exactly who was clean back then.