Judgement Day

Today sees the UCI hold a press conference to present its verdict on USADA’s reasoned decision. It’s a monumental day as we could see the results of the Tour de France from 1999-2005 overturned, the final pen stroke that strips Armstrong of his wins and maybe his status and dignity too. It’s true, the Tour de France never quite ends on the Champs Elysées, instead the result will be announced in the conference room of a Swiss hotel.

Until the conference begins all we know is that the press conference happens at lunchtime in Geneva, Switzerland and we will have UCI President Pat McQuaid, Chief Doctor Mario Zorzoli and Francesca Rossi the anti-doping official who sadly only appears on set-piece occasions. Ahead of this I wanted to think about the issues for consideration and things to look for and I’ve written a few down.

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The Future of the USADA Case

Think the USADA case is about the past, with talk of the Tour de France from a decade ago and the retired Lance Armstrong? Maybe it’s over once Johan Bruyneel, Josep Marti and Pedro Celaya complete their hearings?

Wrong. The information released by USADA is so extensive that it will cause aftershocks for months and years to come. Forget the procedural spat between the UCI and USADA and an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Instead teams and high profile riders are facing fresh questions and possibly new investigations.

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The USADA Report on Lance Armstrong

The USADA Reasoned Decision

USADA have published their report on the decision to impose a lifetime ban on Lance Armstrong for doping and drug trafficking. The report is extensive and damning, complete with testimony from unimpeachable sources like George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer. Indeed every American cyclist who rode the Tour de France with US Postal and Discovery for the seven year period between 1999 and 2005 has now confessed. Except for Lance Armstrong and Kevin Livingstone.

Yet the report isn’t just about Armstrong. It contains references to his old teams, to senior officials in the sport, from US Cycling across to the UCI and beyond. Over one million dollars in payments to Michele Ferrari are detailed for example.

The report goes into extensive detail, offering a chronology of the US Postal team and Lance Armstrong’s role based on sworn affidavits from 26 people as well as extra information from others, whether media reports or more.

The full report is so damning in its entirety that picking the key points is immaterial, it is the weight of evidence rather than any particular selections that matters. Nevertheless here are some summary points:

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Book Review: The Secret Race

The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle

This is a guest review by a reader known as The Race Radio on Twitter, the go-to source for information on the USADA action and much more.

The truth really will set you free“: the last sentence of Tyler Hamilton’s new book is a fit ending. For 300 pages Tyler and Dan Coyle trace Tyler’s journey through the madness of professional cycling during one of the sports most complex times. Coyle’s elegant style allows the story to flow effortlessly through Tyler’s career, capturing the ebb and flow of enablers, teammates, doctors, and DS’s.

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Can Phil Liggett Save Lance Armstrong?

South Africa’s Ballz Radio has an interview with Phil Liggett. After yesterday’s send up of James Bond by Cipollini, now it’s the turn of the “voice of cycling” with explosive claims that secretive agents attempted to bribe and corrupt witness testimony against Lance Armstrong.

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Armstrong: Should Riders Speak Up?

Voigt Media

The news that USADA has sanctioned Lance Armstrong has generated plenty of comment, taking talk of pro cycling from the back pages of newspaper to the front page, to the opinion page and on to TV and beyond. The media, fans, bloggers… it seems everyone has an opinion.

There are strong arguments on both sides, for example those satisfied to see a cheat caught could express their relief, versus those concerned about USADA’s handling of the case raising procedural questions.

But one area of calm is the pro peloton as few riders have said anything in public. Should they?

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Lance Armstrong Quits

Armstrong Yellow Jersey

Lance Armstrong has said he will not contest the charges brought by US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and has issued a statement citing procedural matters and fatigue as the reason why he’s not going to challenge the agency.

Later today USADA is expected to announce a formal lifetime ban from all Olympic sports and to invalidate all his results obtained since 1998.

Here’s a look at the issues of the day, from Armstrong’s bold statement, to what will happen to the results and prizes, what happens next, whether for the others in the case like Radioshack-Nissan manager Johan Bruyneel or the options for the UCI.

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Lance Armstrong’s Lawsuit Dismissed

Judge Sam Sparks

Lance Armstrong’s lawsuit has been dismissed by a judge in Texas. The case saw Lance Armstrong challenge the US Anti-Doping Agency, claiming they could not have jurisdiction over him and therefore any case against him was invalid.

Judge Sam Sparks ruled that whilst USADA’s charging letter was “woefully inadequate”, there was sufficient grounds to expect a just arbitration hearing given the arbitration panel would follow a due process and besides, Armstrong can always appeal there verdict to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

I don’t want to give a running commentary of this case as it’s seemingly never-ending saga. But today is the equivalent of a mountain stage in the stage race that is the USADA investigation and so it’s worth checking the standings.

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USPS Conspiracy Loose Ends

There are still unexploded bombs from World War Two. Every now and then one is discovered buried deep in the ground, often during construction work. Residents are evacuated, a security cordon is put in place, a military bomb squad arrives to defuse the defunct device and within a day or two construction work resumes.

Cycling has its buried bombs too. An axis of deceit carpet-bombed European roads, bridges and mountain passes with syringes and vials some of which are only blowing up today. Yesterday’s explosive stories about Lance Armstrong and others involved in the squad that went from US Postal to Radioshack was just one example. Only headlines and text got sometimes warped by the shock. Here’s a quick look at a few of the issues.

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It’s Not About Lance Armstrong

The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) intends to charge several people with a range of doping-related offences going from the use of banned substances to trafficking and conspiracy. Whilst Lance Armstrong is amongst those facing charges, he is not the only one name involved. These charges relate to the various teams for which Armstrong rode for and involve the senior management and coaching staff. In short this is about the way the team was run.

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