Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team Doping Conspiracy

Update #1:

The entire case file is now available on the USADA website: the decision, appendices, and supporting materials.

Original Post

The USADA will be releasing its "reasoned decision" on the USPS doping conspiracy this afternoon.

They have released a statement about the materials (read the full statement).

"Today, we are sending the ‘Reasoned Decision’ in the Lance Armstrong case and supporting information to the Union Cycliste International (UCI), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC). 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.  
The evidence of the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team-run scheme is overwhelming and is in excess of 1000 pages, and includes sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the US Postal Service Team (USPS Team) and its participants’ doping activities. The evidence also includes direct documentary evidence including financial payments, emails, scientific data and laboratory test results that further prove the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong and confirm the disappointing truth about the deceptive activities of the USPS Team, a team that received tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars in funding...
...The USPS Team doping conspiracy was professionally designed to groom and pressure athletes to use dangerous drugs, to evade detection, to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair competitive advantage through superior doping practices. A program organized by individuals who thought they were above the rules and who still play a major and active role in sport today.
...These eleven (11) teammates of Lance Armstrong, in alphabetical order, are Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry [Barry has released a statement], Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie [Hincapie has released a statement], Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie..."

20 comments:

  1. Looks like Pharmstrong's doping was noticed by one of the UCI's own experts in 09, and nothing happened. Again.

    http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/13026/Ashenden-I-dont-know-whether-Armstrongs-passport-file-was-ever-sent-to-any-of-us-experts.aspx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting quote from Ashenden:
      "Its not as if the UCI are not aware of the contemporary shift toward implementing investigations units. In May 2011 the WADA released its Investigations Guidelines. In the opening paragraph, the document spells out that anti-doping organisations need to move beyond drug-testing alone to develop additional ways of gathering, sharing and exploiting information and evidence about the use of prohibited substances and methods by athletes under their jurisdiction. So-called ‘non-analytical’ information and evidence. The document goes on to emphasise that international federations must do everything in their power to build their own relationships with public authorities.

      In fact the UCI must have been aware of the role of investigations even before 2011. Under Article 20.3.9, the 2009 WADA Code states that it is the role and responsibility of international federations “To vigorously pursue all potential anti-doping rule violations within its jurisdiction including investigation into whether Athlete Support Personnel or other Persons may have been involved in each case of doping”.

      I suppose the ITF has (deliberately) skipped those passages of the WADA code when reading it...Have they ever read it closely, one wonders...I am sure they don't have such a things as an "investigation unit" in place.

      Also, I don't get the part about the biopassport - so are there loopholes to that blood-passport somehow? Or how come that despite obvious irregular values in 2009, as Ashenden points out, they did not bother to investigate those incongruencies. What does Ashenden refer to when he talks about passport files they did not bother to open? Was that because the UCI swept it under the carpet? Idgi. Would be glad to get your help on that.

      Delete
  2. Michael Barry has also issued a statement:

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/former-armstrong-teammate-michael-barry-163136264.html;_ylt=A2KLOzFBq3VQsRUA8jPwFAx.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would be more reasonable to believe that other equally sophisticated doping conspiracies do in fact exist, particularly outside pro-cycling which by comparison to football and tennis is merely a niche sport.

      Pro-cycling clearly punches well above its weight as a doping laboratory and developer of doping techniques. But even a niche sport like cycling doesn't exist in a bubble and it is well known that the expertise of cycling's magic doctors are in high demand elsewhere. This naturally extends to sports where it's possible to become as rich as Croesus, including tennis where we see US Postal's doping doctor (del Moral) already has one high profile player picking from his stall.

      The fact there has been no huge doping scandal yet in tennis is no argument for saying tennis is a largely clean sport. Rather, it refects the 'hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil' nature of present ITF anti-doping practice which seems designed more to gull the public into false beliefs that all is well and good. If there is one lesson that the ITF must have taken on board from cycling, it is that doping scandals spell commercial disaster for a sport and are therefore best avoided.

      Delete
  3. It looks like I've got a new "book" to read tonight.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Statement from Leipheimer

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444799904578048672603746526.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. Tons of stuff on Del Moral in the reasoned decision. He appears to have been the key guy in the day to day running of the dope program and in terms of doping the riders.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tyler's Hamilton's book basically refers to Del Moral as the team's doping doctor. Doping the team was his role, pure and simple.

      Delete
    2. Turns out that when Armstrong was caught using cortisone in 99, the doctor that wrote his backdated prescription was ....... Del Moral.

      Quite laughable he got away with it.

      Delete
  6. Interesting stuff for tennis fans regarding missed tests:

    The first rule of EPO use was to inject intravenously, the second rule was to use the drugin the evening and the third rule “was to always try to hide from testers and . . . try not to get tested.” 746
    The riders were advised to not answer the door if a tester came after they had used EPO.747
    David Zabriskie was also told that it was better to inject at his friend’s residence than athis own because Zabriskie, a U.S. rider, was more likely to be tested in Europe by USADA thanwere most riders from other countries. 748

    ReplyDelete
  7. Some loose thoughts on the "reasoned decision". So del Moral, not only being the messenger to supply Armstrong's "A Team" with EPO during the tour in 1999, was also in charge of backdating prescriptions to cover up a positve cortisone test during the TDF 1999. How convenient! Which in tennis-terms is bascially equalling a backdated fake TUE. And the UCI apparently accepted that.

    Well, if it's that easy, I am sure many other equally a-moral doctors would make use of this rather practical method to get their clients out of serious trouble facing a possible tribunal situation after a positive test result. From what I am reading, why should this not also be a likely scenario in tennis? Do we know if del Moral was also in charge of his "clients" TUE? How about the ITF would start an investigation into that situation now that they know del Moral did help covering up positive test results by backdating prescriptions?

    By the way, this "reasoned decision" is amazing in all its details how it effortlessly lifts all of cyclings covers and sheds light into the dark corners of that sport only to reveal a reckless, success-hungry culture of systematic substance abusers, junkies more precisely, greedy for that precious gold and the subsequent recognition willing to do anything for that one yellow shirt/tour win! Judging by the grade of obsession it becomes evident what importance/power omerta actually had among the initiated members of that secretive order of the holy grail. And how omerta is being cultivated, groomed among its members and makes it hard to penetrate from the outside.

    Another remarkable bit: "Third, the sheer length and severity of the Tour de France greatly increases the pay off of doping. A rider doping in the Tour has an even greater advantage over non-doping competitors than in a shorter competition." Translates into tennis = the pay-off in gruelling 5-setter slams is far greater than in random late-season tournies.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This report shows the power of investigations in anti-doping.

    All the tests in the world would not have laid bare this conspiracy. But a focused agency without fear of favour that had the credibility and capability to piece together brick by brick the threads of evidence will prevail.

    There is no sport on the planet that could have pulled off this investigation. Only an agency like USADA with government backing and dedicated anti-doping capability could pull a case like this together.

    This is a masterclass in anti-doping investigations by USADA.

    No wonder LA blinked. Will UCI blink too or do UCI seriously plan to appeal this USADA decision to impose sanctions on LA. UCI should be thanking USADA for this milestone in cleaning up doping in cycling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is the big question. What will UCI do? What will other sports do?

      Hopefully, this doesn't end up being shelved like the Dubin Report.

      Delete
    2. USADA certainly deserves credit for pursuing this case in the face of such adversity. I also agree that it's important to have organizations free from the conflicts of interest associated with a particular sport doing these investigations. I, however, think it speaks to the futility of the anti-doping effort in general when the main hope for prevailing is putting together a case that takes years of research, bringing in testimony from dozens of associates of the doper (many of whom broke the code of silence and incriminated themselves in the process). Even then, there is great political opposition as to the methods used to bring this case. If our best bet is to nail athletes a decade after their greatest accomplishment if and when they comrades incriminate themselves in the process of incriminating the athlete at hand, maybe we should just say the hell with it. Just a thought.

      I'm not mocking you. I think USADA has done great work, and this is an important case. I also think when you look at the big picture of all the issues this case raises, it probably makes me more pessimistic about what anti-doping can do in the future than I would've been in the absence of this case.

      Delete
    3. My point above wasn't that USADA shouldn't have brought the case a decade after the fact, just to clarify (because it may have been ambiguous). My point is that it troubles me that this is our best option.

      Delete
    4. USADA certainly do deserve great credit but the damning statements provided by Armstrong's co-riders like Hincapie wouldn't have happened without the gloved fist of a federal investigator sitting in on interviews and cross-checking the testimony. Those riders were effectively forced into telling the truth by the threat of potential prosecution for perjury. Had that not happened, they would most likely have carried on with the denial and lies that have characterised their careers to date.

      Where on earth is tennis going to find both the will and resources to conduct the same kind of investigation into a high level tennis player? The ITF are still debating whether a tennis ball stays in play for more than 15 seconds during a five hour match.

      Delete
    5. Richard Ings - do you think the Australian authorities will open an investigation into Mick Rogers? Leipheimer's statement names Rogers as being at one of Ferrari's training camps and being involved in doping?

      Delete
    6. @Richard Ings

      How about investigating del Moral's ties into tennis - now that we have a crystal-clear picture of what he did in cycling, why assume he had stopped his "successful" methods after begin kicked out at USPT? I think with what USADA has presented us so far, it would be an easy step to start looking into the tennis connection he has. Why is the ITF not asking for their files and start digging up what that Valencia Academy has on its hard drives and in its files?

      Just a thought.

      Delete
    7. You ask, will UCI appeal the USADA investigation?

      Would you? And risk further exposure, derision and shame?

      They have a difficult enough job with the mess they have now landed themselves in taking on Paul Kimmage, the investigative journalist. Somehow, I suspect they will take the line of least resistance as regards the USADA decisions.


      Delete
  9. Maybe this whole thing will unravel UCI's Pat McQuaid too and maybe reason for the recent Landis defamation verdict to be overturned. Wishful thinking?

    ReplyDelete