The cycling news over the past week has been insane. I haven’t heard many people talking about it and it seems like it hasn’t gotten much US press coverage. But holy cow.
The story starts out slow…
People have accused Lance Armstrong of doping for years, but never with much evidence or credibility. More recently, from 2010 to 2012, Jeff Novitzky of the US FDA led a criminal investigation. He interviewed tons of officials in Europe and took statements from many of Armstrong’s former teammates. The case was suddenly and mysteriously dropped on February 3, 2012 with no charges filed.
Soon the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) picked up the case. They obtained the evidence from the FDA investigation. On June 13 they charged Armstrong and five others with doping and drug trafficking. Armstrong fought back, saying USADA didn’t have jurisdiction. On August 20 a judge sided with USADA. The case would have gone to arbitration, but strangely Armstrong decided not to fight back. This effectively meant USADA won the case.
So USADA banned some folks and requested that their titles be stripped. But the final decision rested with the UCI (“Union Cycliste Internationale,” aka International Cycling Union, the world governing body for cycling)—would they agree with USADA? Would they strip so many major titles? Would they retroactively reassign them? And of course, Armstrong maintained his innocence.
Then things got crazy
On August 24 the UCI asked USADA to explain their decision. Things were quiet until October 10, when USADA released their information publicly.
The number of famous riders who have confessed to doping and/or received bans and/or testified against Armstrong is astounding: Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, David Zabriskie, Tom Danielson, Michael Berry, Matt White. And there were others who provided written testimony against Armstrong: Frankie Andreu, Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Stephen Swart and Jonathan Vaughters.
The evidence shows that Armstrong and long-time team manager Johan Bruyneel pressured other riders to take drugs and perform blood transfusions. Armstrong paid over $1 million USD to an Italian doctor known for aiding riders with doping—some of these payments happened even after Armstrong stated that he was no longer working with the doctor. Nike and Trek severed ties with Armstrong. Bruyneel was fired from his current team. Leipheimer was fired. Matt White was fired.
And so it’s pretty clear that Lance Armstrong is a tremendous liar and bully. The evidence is indisputable.
Good news for some people
This news is a breath of fresh air for the people who have spoken out against Armstrong over the years: Floyd Landis, Frankie and Betsy Andreu, Greg and Kathy LeMond, poor Filippo Simeoni. These people have all faced animosity for speaking out against Armstrong. They can hold their heads higher than most. Hopefully now their lives will be easier.
I’ve been getting most of my news from Cyclingnews. If you want to read details you can start with their October archive (see the “next page” navigation links at the top, as well as the link to jump to the news for the following week).