14:01 11 October 2012
Seven-time winner of the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong, has been accused of being the leader of a pro-doping group in the “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”, according to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
The American cyclist, aged 41, who was charged for doping offences between 1998 and 2005, now faces claims from 26 witnesses - with 11 people being fellow team members belonging to the US Postal Service team. The USADA have reportedly praised the riders for their honesty.
The USADA, who label Armstrong a cheat, put the findings of the lengthy investigation, which is understood to have been a two year inquiry, in the public domain on Wednesday. This came alongside a statement from the International Cycling Union (UCI) who said they will review the information.
Having already received a ban from cycling off the USADA, and having his seven titles from Tour de France stripped, the UCI is expected to pass their decision in the coming weeks, as reported by the BBC. They will decide whether to appeal against the USADA or agree to ban and strip Armstrong with regards to competitions.
After seeing the report - which apparently claims Armstrong was a cheat and a ring leader with regards to banned substances – USADA’s Chief Executive, Travis Tygart, said in a statement the information was “conclusive and undeniable proof”.
It read: “The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
“He was not just a part of the doping culture on his team, he enforced and re-enforced it,” it continued.
“Armstrong and his co-conspirators sought to achieve their ambitions through a massive fraud now more fully exposed. So ends one of the most sordid chapters in sports history.”
The sportsman, who had previously denied doping accusations but in August quit his fight against the USADA, tweeted: “What am I doing tonight? Hanging with my family, unaffected, and thinking about this," where he posted a link to a website.
According to the BBC, Armstrong has not contested against the USADA charges with his lawyer viewing the report as biased.
On a BBC Radio 5 Live show, Dave Brailsford - the British Cycling Performance Director - described the latest news as “jaw dropping”.
Armstrong retired in 2005 before returning to cycling in 2009, where he performed for two years more before retiring again. He has previously beaten cancer.
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