Armstrong threatened ex-teammate Hamilton

Published: 25 October, 2012 08:20 IST | AFP |

Extracts of USADA's report reveals how Armstrong threatened ex-teammate Hamilton about testifying against him apart from uncovering his tainted past

US Postal Service staff aided team in doping 
Seven eyewitnesses from the 1998 US Postal Service cycling team have provided testimony to USADA regarding doping on the team in 1998. Riders on the team were using performance enhancing substances including EPO, testosterone, human growth hormone and cortisone as confirmed by team employee Emma O’Reilly and riders Frankie Andreu, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie and Jonathan Vaughters. The staff was clearly part of the doping operation. These drugs were administered by Dr Pedro Celaya. Vaughters recalls that Dr Celaya would openly pass out EPO to team members. Emma O’Reilly recalls being asked to transport testosterone by a fellow team employee. Armstrong also required O’Reilly to dispose of used syringes following the Tour of the Netherlands.

Disgraced: USA cyclist Lance Armstrong. Pic/Getty Images 

In addition, from time to time other US Postal Service team staff members were required to transport drugs. For instance, O’Reilly described making a eighteen hour roundtrip in May 1999 at Armstrong’s request from France, to Piles, Spain and then all the way to Nice in order to deliver a bottle of pills to Armstrong that she understood to be banned drugs.

Lance injected himself in front of teammate Vaughters
By 1998 Armstrong’s former Motorola teammates Hincapie and Andreu were aware of his EPO use. Vaughters also believed Armstrong was likely using EPO — there were some tell tale signs, such as Lance carrying around a thermos. However, prior to the 1998 Vuelta a España Vaughters could not be absolutely sure of Armstrong’s EPO use. During this time frame several riders, in addition to Vaughters, saw Armstrong carrying a thermos and associated it with him using EPO. One evening while Vaugthers was in Armstrong’s room borrowing Armstrong’s laptop Armstrong injected himself in front of Vaughters with a syringe used for EPO injections, saying “(n)ow that you are doing EPO too, you can’t go write a book about it.” From that point forward Armstrong was open with Vaughters about Armstrong’s use of EPO.

‘Lance’s wife is rolling joints’
Later that year, at the World Championships at Valkenberg in the Netherlands the US riders arrived at their tent near the start of the race to find that Armstrong had asked his wife Kristin to wrap cortisone tablets in tin foil for him and his teammates. Kristin obliged Armstrong’s request by wrapping the pills and handing them to the riders. One of the riders remarked, “Lance’s wife is rolling joints.”

‘Under the drug tester’s nose’
Armstrong, Vande Velde, Vaughters and Celaya stayed at a bed and breakfast for the 1998 World Championships. Their bedrooms opened into a common area. One morning a UCI drug tester appeared and started setting up in the common area. This prompted Dr Celaya to go outside to the car and retrieve a liter of saline which he put under his rain coat and smuggled right past the UCI tester and into Armstrong’s bedroom. Celaya closed the bedroom door and administered the saline to Armstrong to lower his hematocrit, without alerting the UCI tester to their activities. Vaughters recalled that he and Dr Celaya later “had a good laugh about how he had been able to smuggle in saline and administer it to Lance essentially under the UCI inspector’s nose.”

Armstrong stored banned drug EPO in his refrigerator
In May 1999 Hamilton was at the Armstrong’s villa in Nice, France. Hamilton was in need of EPO and he testified that he asked Armstrong to borrow a vial of EPO and that Armstrong provided EPO to Hamilton that was stored in Armstrong’s refrigerator. Vaughters testified that Kristin Armstrong told him they kept EPO in their refrigerator in Nice.

While the team had a workable drug supply system during the season — that did not mean that the riders would have access to EPO during the Tour.

Everyone realized that security would be tight for the Tour de France and normal distribution methods could not be relied upon. For Armstrong, Hamilton and Kevin Livingston, the solution to this problem was a sometime personal assistant and handyman for the Armstrongs who came to be known as “Motoman.”

Lance Armstrong (left) with Tyler Hamilton during the 2003 Tour de France. PIC/Getty Images 

Biker’s duty: Follow the Tour
“Motoman” was known to Tyler as a “motorcycle enthusiast.” In July, during the Tour de France, his motorcycle skills would be put to the test as he would also become a drug smuggler. Specifically, it would become his duty to follow the Tour on his motorcycle and make deliveries of EPO to team trainer Pepe Marti or another US Postal Service staffer. The riders in the know, Armstrong, Hamilton and Livingston, therefore, took to calling him “Motoman.” The EPO delivered by “Motoman” would only be shared by Lance, the team leader, and Tyler and Kevin his key lieutenants for the mountain stages.

Lance hid syringe bruises on arm with make-up
Before the 1999 Tour there was to be a public weigh in attended by the media. Andreu noticed bruising on Armstrong’s upper arm caused by a syringe. He pointed it out to Armstrong who exclaimed, “Oh, s**t that’s not good.” Emma O’Reilly was able to procure some makeup that was used to cover up the bruise, and Armstrong participated in the weigh in with no one else noticing the bruising.

He used cortisone without medical authorisation
A few days later the USPS team was notified that Armstrong had had a corticosteroid positive. According to those who were there, Armstrong did not have a medical authorization at the time to use cortisone and the positive drug test result set off a scramble. Hamilton remembers, “a great deal of swearing from Lance and Johan”. Tyler said, the “general understanding was that they were scrambling to come up with something because Lance had used cortisone without medical authorisation.” O’Reilly was in the room giving Armstrong a massage when Armstrong and team officials fabricated a story to cover the positive test. Armstrong and the team officials agreed to have Dr del Moral backdate a prescription for cortisone cream for Armstrong which they would claim had been prescribed in advance of the Tour to treat a saddle sore.

O’Reilly understood from Armstrong, however, that the positive had really come about from a cortisone injection Armstrong received around the time of the Route du Sud a few weeks earlier.

Hincapie helped him dodge drug testing officials
USADA has first hand evidence that Armstrong used testosterone in 2000 and that he evaded drug testing in order to avoid a positive test. Hincapie, “was generally aware that Lance was using testosterone throughout the time (Armstrong and Hincapie) were teammates.” At a race in Spain Hincapie had heard from Armstrong that he had just taken testosterone. Lance told Hincapie, “that he was feeling good and recovered that he had just taken some ‘oil.’”

Hincapie testified, “(w)hen I heard that drug testing officials were at the hotel, I texted Lance to warn him to avoid the place. As a result, Lance dropped out of the race.”

After Armstrong won his seventh Tour title in 2005, he returned to the United States without going back to his apartment in Girona. Consequently, after the 2005 Tour Johan Bruyneel asked Hincapie to, “go over to Lance’s apartment to go through the apartment and the closets to make sure that nothing was there.” Hincapie understood that Johan wanted him “to make sure there were no doping materials in the apartment.” Thus, Hincapie conducted a drug sweep of Armstrong’s apartment after the Tour.

Payed off UCI to hide positive test result?
Armstrong told both Hamilton and Landis that he had tested positive for EPO at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland and stated or implied that he had been able to make the EPO test result go away. Armstrong’s conversation with Hamilton was in 2001, and he told Hamilton “his people had been in touch with UCI, they were going to have a meeting and everything was going to be ok.” Armstrong’s conversation with Landis was in 2002, and Landis recalled Armstrong saying that, “he and Mr (Johan) Bruyneel flew to the UCI headquarters and made a financial agreement to keep the positive test hidden.” Consistent with the testimony of both Hamilton and Landis, Pat McQuaid, the current president of UCI, has acknowledged that during 2002, Armstrong and Bruyneel visited the UCI headquarters in Aigle in May 2002 and offered at least $100,000 to help the development of cycling. UCI vehemently denies that this meeting or payment was, as Armstrong told Hamilton and Landis, tied to a cover-up of the 2001 Tour de Suisse sample.

Dr Martial Saugy, the Director of the WADA-accredited anti-doping laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland has confirmed to both USADA and the media that his laboratory detected a number of samples in the 2001 Tour de Suisse that were suspicious for the presence of EPO.

Dr Saugy also told USADA that he was advised by UCI that at least one of these samples belonged to Armstrong.

Therefore, even without any consideration of the laboratory test results for these samples, as set forth above, Hamilton’s and Landis’s testimony regarding Armstrong’s admission that he used EPO at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland finds substantial corroboration in the statements of both Dr Saugy and UCI President Pat McQuaid.

We’re going to tear you apart: He warned Hamilton
As set forth in the affidavit of Hamilton, after he had testified about Armstrong’s doping and after Hamilton’s cooperation with federal law enforcement officials had been publicly reported, on June 11, 2011, Hamilton was physically accosted by Armstrong in an Aspen, Colorado restaurant. Hamilton has testified that in connection with this altercation Armstrong said, “When you’re on the witness stand, we are going to f***ing tear you apart. You are going to look like a f***ing idiot.” Hamilton further testified that Armstrong said, “I’m going to make your life a living . . . f***ing . . . hell.”

He threatened Levi’s wife
As set forth in his affidavit, after American cyclist Levi Leipheimer was subpoenaed and testified truthfully to a federal grand jury in a case involving Armstrong, in the course of a dinner at which Armstrong was seated next to Leipheimer, he sent a text message to Leipheimer’s wife stating, “run don’t walk.” As Armstrong had not communicated with Leipheimer’s wife in several years, this message felt threatening to her.

How it started
In November 2008 USADA proceeded to a hearing in a non-analytical case involving US cyclist Kayle Leogrande. Leogrande received a two year period of ineligibility for the use of erythropoietin (EPO). In January of 2009, USADA received information about individuals who may have supplied Leogrande and other cyclists with performance enhancing drugs. Thereafter, USADA commenced an investigation into drug use and distribution within the Southern California cycling scene. USADA came to understand that Floyd Landis might have information useful to this effort. However, before USADA communicated with Landis on this topic, Paul Scott, an individual residing in Southern California, provided information to USADA Science Director Dr Daniel Eichner confirming that Landis had information relevant to USADA’s investigation and also providing information about the involvement of Lance Armstrong and Landis in doping on the US Postal Service Team.

Armstrong doctor plays down doping in book
The Italian sports doctor accused of playing a key role in Lance Armstrong’s elaborate doping programme has played down his links to the disgraced US rider in a new book, a report said yesterday.

Michele Ferrari remains at the centre of a doping investigation that could see him charged with conspiracy to smuggle, trade, administer and take performance-enhancing drugs, as well as tax evasion and money laundering.

Dr Michele Ferrari

However he has played down his links with Armstrong and other US cyclists in an e-book, “Cycling Pro-The Doctor Myth”, published in Italy yesterday, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

World cycling authorities on Monday stripped Armstrong of all his results since August 1998, including his seven Tour de France wins, after the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said he was at the heart of the biggest doping programme in sports history. Eleven of the dozens of witnesses who testified against him were former teammates who saw him take banned substances and were either coerced or forced into doing likewise to remain a part of his teams. According to Gazzetta’s report, in the book Ferrari “swears he has not had a professional relationship with the American (Armstrong) since October 1, 2004. And that he never seen the American riders who have accused him”.

Figure skater Carolina Kostner, the 2012 world champion and one of Italy’s most popular athletes, is also mentioned in the book.

She is the girlfriend of disgraced race walker Alex Schwazer. Ferrari also played down links to Schwazer, whose career recently collapsed after he admitted using the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin).

Cycling world is utterly livid: Wiggins
Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins believes there is a lot of anger within cycling towards Lance Armstrong.

The UCI this week ratified sanctions recommended by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, who concluded Armstrong and the United States Postal Service team ran “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.

Bradley Wiggins

Armstrong was banned for life and all his results from August 1, 1998 removed, including his seven Tour de France wins from 1999 to 2005. At the launch of next year’s Tour de France route in Paris yesterday reigning champion Wiggins hit out at the 41-year-old Texan over the scandal that has rocked the sport.

“I think there is a lot of anger from most people within the sport, it is a sport I love and have always loved,” he said.

“It is a shame that cycling is being dragged through this again really, not a shame that he has been caught — when you get older you start to realise Father Christmas doesn’t exist and it is the same with Lance.

“But it is a shame that us riders here now, we are the one picking the pieces up and having to convince people.” 

100th Tour de France to finish at nightfall
The 100th edition of the Tour de France next year will finish in Paris at nightfall for the first time, organisers said on yesterday, as they unveiled next year’s route in the shadow of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. The 3,360km route will begin for the first time on the Mediterranean island of Corsica on June 29, culminating with a final stage run from the historic town of Versailles, southwest of Paris, arriving on the Champs Elysees boulevard at sunset.

Three time-trials — two individual and one for teams — have been included in the race, as well as four summit finishes, not least a climb to Semnoz in the Alps on the penultimate day, which is likely to determine the winner. 

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