The evidence, Tygart said, is in excess of 1,000 pages and features sworn testimony from 26 individuals, “including 15 riders with knowledge of the USPS team and its participants’ doping activities.”
Tygart praised the “courage” of 11 Armstrong teammates who came forward: Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.
According to the statement, USADA gathered information that “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.”
I read a considerable portion of the USADA’s “reasoned decision” against Lance Armstrong yesterday and it was nothing more than a summation of testimony — albeit dark and shady stories from 11 former Armstrong teammates who, in the prime of their physical abilities and careers, had no choice but to help Lance win. So naturally there could be some bitterness there, accompanied by some disdain for Lance’s notoriously volatile personality.
Honestly, some of the report sounded like a bad conspiracy novel — drawing conclusions from incidents that were really, really thinly reasoned. For example, Lance was seen carrying a thermos on several occasions. The USADA concluded that this was evidence that Lance was using the red blood cell booster EPO. Shock-horror! A thermos?! Carried by an elite athlete who requires constant hydration and food? Crazy!
In another passage, the USADA described an episode from the 2003 Tour de France in which Tyler Hamilton asked the rest of the race leaders to wait for Lance after he collided with a spectator. To any cycling fan, this is commonplace. It’s European sportsmanship. When the wearer of the yellow jersey has a mechanical problem or crashes, the other leader wait. Plus, Hamilton was on a rival team at that point. But the USADA concluded that this was Hamilton stalling the race to show his support for a fellow drug-user.
The only thing the USADA left out of the report was evidence of Armstrong lurking on the grassy knoll during the Kennedy assassination.
But I will say this: the report was really dark and disturbing. Lots of cloak-and-dagger stories about Lance and other riders locked in hotel rooms with transfusion bags plugged into their veins. Frankly, considering the detail of these sordid stories, and as unjust as this double- or triple-jeopardy witch hunt might be, I don’t see Lance escaping from this one.