'Drug Lord' Lance Armstrong ran a sophisticated doping ring

"Overwhelming" evidence shows top cyclist Lance Armstrong engaged in the biggest doping conspiracy in sports history to win the Tour de France seven times, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said on Wednesday.

USADA chief executive Travis T. Tygart said USADA has submitted a report on why it banned Armstrong for life in August to the International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and released more than 1,000 pages of supporting evidence gathered in a probe of Armstrong and the US Postal Service team.

"The evidence of the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team-run scheme is overwhelming," Tygart said.

"The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."

26 people testifed that Lance Armstrong took performance-enhancing drugs. Pic/AFP

That includes testimony from 26 people, 15 of them with knowledge of US Postal riders and doping activities, including George Hincapie, who admitted in a statement today that he took performance-enhancing drugs.

"It's extremely difficult today to acknowledge that during a part of my career I used banned substances," he said.

"Early in my professional career, it became clear to me that, given the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete at the highest level without them.

"I deeply regret that choice and sincerely apologise to my family, teammates and fans."

Other former Armstrong teammates who testified include Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.

"Different categories of eyewitness, documentary, first-hand, scientific, direct and circumstantial evidence reveal conclusive and undeniable proof that brings to the light of day for the first time this systemic, sustained and highly professionalised team-run doping conspiracy," Tygart said.

Armstrong was banned for life by USADA and stripped of his seven Tour de France triumphs from 1999-2005 after declining the chance to challenge the doping charges against him before a USADA arbitration panel.

Armstrong, who has denied any wrongoding, said he was weary of years of allegations against him and tired of fighting, instead hoping to focus on his Livestrong foundation and anti-cancer fundraising activities.

Six former teammates of Lance Armstrong have been suspended for six months by the US Anti-doping Agency (USADA) after they all admitted doping.

Five Americans - Levi Leipheimer, 38 (of the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team), Christian Vande Velde, 36, David Zabriskie, 33, and Tom Danielson, 34, (all of Garmin-Sharp), George Hincapie, 39, (BMC) - and one Canadian, 36-year-old Michael Barry (Sky) all received six-month bans which will run from September 1 this year.

They were suspended after admitting to blood transfusions and taking substances including the banned blood-booster EPO, human growth hormone, cortisone and testosterone. 

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