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Report: Cyclists link Lance Armstrong, team to 'systematic doping'

Lance Armstrong's self-described cycling "comeback 2.0" ended when he failed to win his eighth Tour de France last month, but doping allegations continue to intensify around him.

Officials for the Federal Drug Administration have stepped up their investigation, according to a New York Times report. Among those they've spoken with are former cyclists who, Juliet Macur and Michael S. Schmidt write, "have supported and detailed claims that Armstrong and his former United States Postal Service team participated in systematic doping, according to a cyclist who has been interviewed and two others privy to the inquiry."

Reached Wednesday in Denver, Armstrong told the Associated Press said he had no comment. As allegations surfaced during the Tour de France, however, he said he would deny doping "as long as I live."

Floyd Landis, a former Armstrong teammate with USPS, admitted in May that he used performance-enhancing drugs for most of his career and criticized Armstrong and other USPS teammates in a Wall Street Journal story on the eve of the Tour de France. Landis won the Tour de France in 2006 but was stripped of the victory and banned from the sport for two years because of a positive drug test. He has implicated a number of other cyclists, including George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer and Dave Zabriskie.

Armstrong has questioned the credibility of Landis, but associates continue to be interviewed. FDA special agent Jeff Novitzky, who led the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative investigation, is leading this investigation. BALCO's owner, Victor Conte, reached a plea deal on conspiracy and money-laundering charges, gold-medalist Marion Jones served time in prison and Barry Bonds, baseball's home-run king, is awaiting trial on perjury charges.

Federal prosecutors, led by Doug Miller, are working closely with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on the investigation, according to the Times, and on Monday, Armstrong's attorney, Tim Herman, criticized the investigation, saying USADA is offering "sweetheart deals" to any athlete who will testify or provide information about Armstrong.

"A rider who has doped, they tell them, 'If you can finger Armstrong, we'll get out the eraser ... and everything is cool,'" Herman told the Associated Press. He alleges that USADA is offering reduced bans and other incentives to athletes in exchange for information.

A USADA spokesperson refused to comment because theinvestigation is ongoing.

By Cindy Boren  |  August 5, 2010; 6:15 AM ET
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While it may come out that positive screens are stored somewhere, LA is the most tested professional athlete in history. Where are the positive results and why haven't they been publicized? This article and all those this year are nothing more than allegations. Linking L.A. to baseball to other professional sports? Just shows that at that level the motivations are very powerful!!

Posted by: sathiele | August 5, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Armstrong is a cheat and a fraud.

Posted by: mjwies11 | August 5, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

This is troubling, but the prosecutors will need more than the testimony of Landis and Hamilton, both admitted dopers who lied about it. LeMond is just bizarre--he has no way of knowing the truth, yet they've subpoenaed him.

It will come down to whether there is a paper trail. Without it, prosecutors have squat.

Posted by: krickey7 | August 5, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

All I know is this: I would not want to be the subject of an investigation that Jeff Novitzky is running. Dirk Nowitzki, sure.

Posted by: Cindy Boren | August 5, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

@krickey7 According to the Times, two other riders have provided evidence. One specifically can neither be Landis nor Hamilton because the article is specific that this rider has never tested positive.

@sathiele Most of the suspected drugs either were not detectable at the time it is suggested that he doped and methods have been provided that would make it harder to detect those substances (e.g., lower doses of EPO that could be used before bed and not detected the next morning).

More importantly, many other athletes have not tested positive, yet admitted that they did dope (e.g., Marian Jones). Also, it's not quite true that Armstrong has never tested positive. He tested positive for steroids and came up after the fact with a prescription for use for saddle sores. A frozen sample also tested positive for EPO once tests became available (Armstrong has refused to allow testing of other frozen samples).

Posted by: dank5 | August 5, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Strange how everyone on his team did "it' but him and the one time he tested positive somehow there was something wrong with the testing facilities. I like him but I think he's guilty.

Posted by: rlj1 | August 5, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

If they checked his blood, it would be green.

Posted by: englundc | August 5, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Marion Jones tested clean and denied doping just as vociferously as Lance Armstrong for years.

Posted by: Itzajob | August 5, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

The FDA is investigating doping from 5 years ago? With the Kellogg's recall, and all the other issues, this is the FDA's priority?

Hey, FDA, how about you worry about what the cereal companies are putting inside the cereal boxes, and a little less about who was on the cover of the wheaties box 5 years ago.

Posted by: emrj | August 5, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

As Eddy Merckx, five-time Tour de France said, "Do they want us to ride the Tour de France on water?"

Posted by: jonawebb | August 5, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I thought doping was controlled through testing, not witch hunts.

Landis failed doping tests and was considered innocent until he failed those tests. Armstrong deserves the same consideration.

If Armstrong has never failed a drug test over all these years, I'd say he's pretty clean. He'd be a fool to dope with the scrutiny on him. The only real evidence they have on him is hearsay and incredulity at his amazing career.

Either show me his failed tests or leave him alone!

Posted by: AxelDC | August 5, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

The guy is an amazing medical story. Problem is, he knows it and acts like everyone should bow to him. Arrogant punk deserves what he gets.

Posted by: RobInVaBeach | August 5, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

"Report: Cyclists link Lance Armstrong, team to 'systematic doping'
Lance Armstrong's self-described cycling "comeback 2.0" ended when he failed to win his eighth Tour de France last month, but doping allegations continue to intensify around him."

Either this writer is really out of it or they want to be negative. His team won.

Why not say so?

Posted by: gary4books | August 5, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

This is beginning to look bad for Armstrong. The truth must come out soon, or else he will forever be under a cloud.

Posted by: camper3 | August 5, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I suppose the next thing someone will say is that Lance faked his cancer to get sympathy. He has been an inspiration to many cancer survivors, including myself, that having cancer is not the end of the line for everyone and can often be controlled and amazing achievements accomplshed. In an era where nearly every cyclist used some sort of performance enhancing drugs, Lance never tested positively and what is to be gained from looking back and trying to discredit him? He has used his fame and fortune to help individuals with cancer find cures and hope. Let the past be the past.

Posted by: gpillsbury | August 5, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I am sorry for all of you who refuse to recognize a fraud when it is all but smacking you right in the face. As a national caliber cyclist for a decade and also a survivor of cancer I am incensed by LA's lies. He blood doped incessantly until this Tour...apparent because he could not hold a wheel of the climbers. If he had not been underfire, he would have blood transfused and been on the podium. Mr. Ullrich, and all the others were never caught either but now have admitted blood doping. Leiphiemer's former trainer says he doped....what do you need? A brain transfusion in order to see what is obvious. Armstrong has benefited from his lies and now wants to hide behind his cancer...give me a break. His hubris will bring him down. I just hope cycling survives him

Posted by: bornontheriver | August 5, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Of course he's guilty, just better at not being detected than others who finally got caught.

Posted by: beenthere3 | August 5, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

whenever somebody has proof, please run the story. Otherwise, how may times are we going to hear about allegations and accusations?

Lance has been tested and cleared many times.

That said, cycling's highest echelon sets itself apart with very refined pharmaceuticals and physiological tweaking. Even the "legal" preparations for a race can seem like a lab experiment. Lance has never been found to be over the legal line.

7 tour victories produce a lot of envy among aging pros.

Posted by: roboturkey | August 5, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Pro cyclists act like a bunch of teenage girls, always out to make themselves look better by lying and gossiping.

Posted by: pjohn2 | August 5, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

The "Federal Drug Administration?" There's no such thing.

Posted by: rashomon | August 5, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I look at it this way: I haven't seen any proof that he did it, he's never tested positive, and he's the most-tested athlete in the world. I can't give Landis any credibility; he's the Pete Rose of cycling, if you will. So right now I see no reason to conclude that Armstrong doped. I'd very much like to believe that he didn't.

If it turns out that he did dope, of course I'd be quite disappointed, but I can't say I'd be surprised, especially when so many of the other riders were doing it. There's certainly a very valid argument that it seems implausible for someone who wasn't cheating to be able to beat (seven times in a row) all these other guys who were cheating.

One thought that has come to mind recently is that whether the cyclists doped or not, they're still damn good many of us normal people could ride a bike 2,000 miles in three weeks even with the help of doping? That's not meant in any way to excuse cheating, mind you; it's just an observation.

Posted by: 1995hoo | August 5, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Sounds as though just about all of them were doping. So if LA was and was first more than the others, all things being equal, chances are if NO ONE doped LA would've prevailed anyway.

You want "honesty"? Try the dictionary. That's about the only place you'll find it. There's little honesty in business, politics and even in religious groups. And we expect honesty in sports???

Posted by: mooncusser | August 5, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

If the many, many drug tests that Lance Armstrong took over the years were negative, than that's good enough for me.

I suppose he may have possibly taken substances that weren't yet banned, and that is a BIG MAYBE, but legal is legal. It's like F1. You read the rule book and interpet to your best advantage.

Posted by: tifoso1 | August 5, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Gee, I wonder if Ol' Sal will weigh in on this..

Posted by: wewintheylose | August 5, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

The sport needs a radical cleanup to retain any credibility. Doping has become engrained within the culture of the sport at its highest level. It wouldn't surprise me if every one of the last 10 or 15 years' winners was a doper. One of those years is already accounted for, and it looks like 7 others are not far behind.

Shame on all of them.

Posted by: Va79 | August 5, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, I just don't trust these cyclists. They are in a world of their own that is absolutely driven and, I daresay, compulsive and they will do ANYTHING to discredit a winner.
Testimony against Lance Armstrong, especially as it is given through the press, is to be taken with a huge grain of salt.
Having been around these people and witnessed how they operate and what they do to one another, I came to realize that any honest person among them will be destroyed should they get the chance to do so.
Maybe Armstrong has been as dishonest as many of the others, but, MAYBE NOT and I encourage everyone to take a deep breath and follow the money of those who will benefit from him being taken down.

Posted by: cms1 | August 5, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Typically I don't post on these things but here it goes. Cycling isn't inherently different than any other sport or for that matter in corporate structure, its effected by the same things that every system is, especially where money is involved. Cycling however, to a greater extent than any other organized sports, is attempting to do something; just not enough to compromise its economic viability. It does cause me pain however to have naive sports fans think that cycling is "more dirty" than other organized sports just because people are getting caught and outed by current doping protocols; if the NFL used the current testing protocols being used by the UCI or WADA they would have very few players suiting up on Sundays. Just because Lance Armstrong has done heroic things in the fight against cancer doesn't mean he's pure or virtuous in every way, shape, and form. Then again who is? I'm convinced he doped, I could cite multiple reasons why I believe this to be true, sound arguments all of them, and if I did so, and if it could be proven that he did factually "dope", does that mean that all the positive things he has done in waging a battle against cancer should be discounted? What if it could also be proven that the cancer he had could be directly tied to his doping practices; would his battle over it be any less incredible? Sure he would have to "own" it differently than he does at present, and sure people would be disappointed by the details of the story, but what's with people having to transform human beings into demi-gods just so they can view something they have done as inspirational? Personally I don't like Lance Armstrong because I do believe on the cyclying front he's a fraud, a phony, but that doesn't mean that what he's done in the battle against cancer is no big deal, it is. I am however struck by how people need to view human beings as being totaly virtuous to have done anything of worth when in reality every one of us has within them the potential to do good and simultaneously bad things. What is sad is the extent to which people will go to defend lies, as it is the depth of these lies and the extent to which one holds steadfastly to the lies that in the final analysis makes profound statements about one's overall character. There, now I done it again and said too much...

Posted by: naegy | August 6, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Says rashomon ("August 5, 2010 6:54 PM"):


The "Federal Drug Administration?" There's no such thing.


Food for thought. Oh, well. WaPo is one of the more honest members of the world's fourth estate in that it happily publishes corrections of such errors of fact, so let's look forward to one in this case.

Posted by: LeighOats | August 6, 2010 5:46 AM | Report abuse

Cycling is a team sport and Lance has said he couldn't have won without the help of his teammates. If his teammates were doping, the team (including Lance) had an unfair advantage. So, regardless of whether he himself doped, in my mind his wins were tainted.

Posted by: newflu | August 6, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

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