SEVEN-TIME Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong’s team ran “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme the sport has ever seen”, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said last night.
USADA detailed its decision to strip Armstrong, 41, of his titles and impose a lifetime ban in a report running to more than 1,000 pages that chief executive Travis Tygart said offered “conclusive and undeniable proof” of the US Postal Service cycling team’s doping.
Eleven of Armstrong’s former team-mates testified, including fellow American and close ally George Hincapie, who last night also released a statement admitting his use of banned performance enhancing substances.
Armstrong, who is now retired from the sport, has consistently denied doping but is not contesting the USADA charges. The International Cycling Union (UCI) has 21 days to respond to the dossier and pass its own judgement on the most celebrated cyclist of all time.
The USADA file contained laboratory test results, material on financial payments, emails and other scientific data that proved Armstrong had used and distributed drugs, Tygart said.
He added that the US Postal Service team “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 urged the UCI to “act on its own recent suggestion for a meaningful Truth and Reconciliation programme”, adding: “Hopefully, the sport can unshackle itself from the past, and once and for all continue to move forward to a better future.”