Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lance Armstrong Investigation: USADA's Charges and Evidence

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I found a copy of USADA's letter to Lance and friends online. From what I've read, some of USADA's evidence came to light from their participation in the grand jury investigation of fraud charges as the Grand Jury heard from the likes of Lance's closest associates including George Hincapie and others. The full letter is included below, along with some key points that I got from it:
Here are some key points I got from reading the letter:
  1. USADA has testimony from numerous witnesses. The letter states that USADA is only relying on witness testimony if it is based on "first hand knowledge." The letter says that the testimony comes from "more than ten (10) cyclists as well as cycling team employees." Importantly, it sounds to me that many, if not all of the "ten or more" cyclists will be implicating themselves in their testimony by saying such things as: "Lance and Johan gave me X (some doping product) and I used it." Or, "Everyone on the team was given Y, including Lance and myself." Interestingly, the letter makes clear that USADA has had face to face meetings with the riders and that every rider involved agreed to meet with them except Lance. 
  2. The letter states how Lance and others were purported to use the doping methods. Most of it is old news but it gives some history of what USADA refers to as the doping "conspiracy." For example, it explains that Lance and the others originally had to watch hematocrit levels so they would dilute their blood with saline, glycerol and plasma to keep their hematocrit levels from triggering a violation. Later, when a urine test for EPO came out they started micro dosing and doing autologous blood transfusions (i.e. transfusions of an athlete's own blood).
  3. The letter states that the conspiracy used "secretive methods" including code names and masking agents to avoid detection. For example, EPO was called Poe or Edgar or Edgar Allen Poe. The letter explains that they called testosterone "oil" and it describes how Michele Ferrari devised a way to administer testosterone by mixing it with olive oil so they could take it orally to help prevent liver damage. It also explains that the conspiracy used "fear, intimidation and coercion to attempt to enforce a code of silence (or omertà) by team members and employees to prevent detection..."
  4. With regard to blood and urine tests, USADA also has testimony from Dr. Martial Saugy who is the director of an Anti-Doping lab. USADA says that Dr. Saugy stated that Lance's "urine sample results from the 2001 Tour of Switzerland were indicative of EPO use." USADA also says that it has multiple witnesses who have told them "that Lance Armstrong told them he had tested positive in 2001 and that the test result had been covered up." The letter goes on to say that blood collected by the UCI during 2009 and 2010 "is fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or other blood transfusions."
  5. Common charges made against all six individuals including Lance but also Johan Bruyneel (Team Director), Drs. Pedro Celaya and Luis del Moral (Team Doctors), Dr. Michele Ferrari (Consulting Doctor) and Jose Pepe Marti (Team Trainer and current trainer of Alberto Contador) include 1) possession of doping substances and equipment, 2) trafficking of substances such as EPO and testosterone, 3) administration of doping products to others, 4) assisting, encouraging and covering up anti-doping rule violations and 5) other things.
  6. The letter outlines the conspiracy and says it went from 1998 to the present. It explains why the eight year statute of limitations should not prevent them from holding Lance and others accountable for violations that are more than eight years old since the conspiracy has been ongoing. In other words, if Lance did one thing nine years ago and nothing else, they probably couldn't take anything from him. However, since they allege that he was actively involved in doping and helping others dope for the entire time period, and since there "exists substantial evidence...of doping that occurred within the eight year" period, what happened prior to eight years ago is a relevant component of the entire allegation.
  7. Lance and the others have until June 22nd to respond. Then the due process begins and, the letter states, it will likely lead to a Court of Arbitration in Sport hearing before November 2012.

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