The US Anti-Doping Agency says it has evidence claiming that Lance Armstrong was at the center of the most "sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."
The USADA is releasing details of the alleged program, including more than 1,000 pages of sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 cyclists accusing Armstrong of playing a key role in a sophisticated doping program on the US Postal Service Cycling team.
In a written statement, USADA boss Travis Tygart says the evidence proves "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."
Tygart alleges the "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 USADA says many athletes who provided evidence were faced with the decision to either take enhancement drugs or not compete at the highest levels of cycling, adding that many had to abandon their dreams because they refused to take part.
The dossier includes testimony from 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 agency says,"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." Tygart says Lance Armstrong was given the same opportunity to come forward but he refused.
The information has been sent on to the Union Cycliste International (UCI), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC).
USA Today says the USADA is releasing the report as required by the World Anti-Doping Code, after giving Armstrong a lifetime ban in August and stripping him of his seven titles in the Tour de France, accusing him of using and distributing performance-enhancing drugs. At the time, even though he claimed he never failed a drug test, he refused to take his case to arbitration saying the process was "rigged" against him and that he wouldn't fight the charges.
On Tuesday, Armstrong’s lawyers tried to discredit the report in a letter to the anti-doping agency's lawyer. In the letter, Timothy Herman calls the case a farce. “USADA, the prosecutor, now pretends to issue its own ‘reasoned decision,’ even though there was no judge, no jury and no hearing.”
After receiving the report, UCI has 21 days to appeal the decision against Armstrong to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. USA Today says UCI has been critical of the case against Armstrong, suggesting he may not have received fair due process. It also questions whether it is fair that deals were made with other riders to testify against Armstrong in exchange for less severe punishment for doping.
The full report and all the evidence have been posted on the USDA website.
USA Today reports that in a new book by cyclist Tyler Hamilton, "The Secret Race," there are allegations that Armstrong worked with UCI to have a positive drug test covered up at the Tour of Switzerland in 2001.