On June 12th the US Anti-Doping Agency wrote to Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel, Pedro Celaya, Luis Garcia del Moral, Pepe Marti and Michele Ferrari telling them they were being charged with, amongst other offences, possession, trafficking, administering and aiding and abetting the use of prohibited substances.
The letter contained several references to “numerous riders” who testified that they were part of a systematic doping programme which went on at Armstrong and Bruyneel’s US Postal/Discovery teams from 1998 onwards.
For instance, the charges against Bruyneel claim, “numerous riders will testify that Mr Bruyneel gave to them and/or encouraged them to use doping products and/or prohibited methods, including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, hGH and cortisone from the period 1999 through 2007”.
Armstrong’s charges state, “numerous riders, team personnel and others will testify based on personal knowledge acquired either through observing Armstrong dope or through Armstrong’s admissions of doping to them that Lance Armstrong used EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone during the period from before 1998 through 2005, and that he previously used testosterone and hGH through 1996.
Numerous riders will testify that Lance Armstrong gave to them, encourages them to use and/or assisted them in using doping products and/or methods, including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone during the period from 1999 through 2005.”
Today, George Hincapie, Dave Zabriskie, Christain Vande Velde and Levi Leipheimer all announced they did not want to be considered for the US Olympic cycling team.
The link between the four? They all rode for Armstrong and Bruyneel teams in the era in question.
Is that putting two and two together and getting five? We’ll see. But it has been reported in the past that Hincapie, Armstrong’s faithful lieutenant, testified against him before a grand jury last year.
You could just about get away with saying that Floyd Landis would be prepared to lie under oath to ‘get’ Armstrong. It was pushing it a bit, in my opinion, to say that Tyler Hamilton would lie under oath and lose his Olympic gold medal in order to be part of the so-called Armstrong witch-hunt. But Big George? And why, exactly, would these ‘numerous riders’ – teammates and friends alike – be willing to perjure themselves and risk going to jail by testifying against Lance, if what they said wasn’t true?
It looks like the golden goose may be well and truly cooked.