The USADA announced the individuals who gave sworn testimony this morning, and the top names of American cycling are on the list.
As a part of its investigation of Lance Armstrong and the systematic doping at USPS over the course of Armstrong’s seven Tour win, the USADA released the names of cyclists who say they witnessed Armstrong and other members of the team using a variety of doping techniques during their time on the team. Numerous reports had indicated that George Hincapie had offered testimony, but the other names were unconfirmed until this morning’s announcement.
In addition to Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie and current Garmin-Sharp boss Jonathan Vaughters all said they witnessed and participated in systematic doping practices while employed at the United States Postal Service team. In addition, the USADA revealed that it also holds evidence that can prove doping practices after the USPS squad became Discovery Channel, and documents evidence of doping at Armstrong’s stops with Astana and Radioshack in 2009 and 2010. That is a new scope of doping that puts even more pressure on Armstrong’s camp.
The USADA has arranged for the active riders to serve 6 month suspensions at the end of the season, beginning after the Vuelta a Espana. Hincapie, Zabriskie and Leipheimer all asked not to be considered for the Olympic squad, tipping off the cycling community that their names were going to be involved in something very big, very soon.
Often claiming to be “The Most Tested Athlete On Earth”, the myriad eye-witness accounts to doping must put doubt in even the most die-hard Armstrong fans. No comments from Armstrong have been released at the moment, and the Texan will undoubtedly take time to carefully craft his answer. With Armstrong losing credibility and sway in the cycling community all of the time, those still active in the sport are more and more willing to share their information on the seven Tour wins they helped Armstrong win from 1999-2006.
All of the riders listed at witnesses are currently riding at the Tour de France. This Tour will, unfortunately, take a step back today with the new allegations and distract from some outstanding racing. A successful case from USADA could wipe out 7 Tour wins from the history, not to mention Olympic medals, countless race wins and high rankings from well over a decade.