Aware of the criticism his agency has faced from Armstrong and his legion of followers, USADA Chief Executive Travis Tygart insisted his group handled this case under the same rules as any other. He pointed out that Armstrong was given the chance to take his case to arbitration and he declined, choosing in August to accept the sanctions instead.
“We focused solely on finding the truth without being influenced by celebrity or non-celebrity, threats, personal attacks or political pressure because that is what clean athletes deserve and demand,” Tygart said.
Some of the newest information — never spelled out in detail before yesterday — includes USADA’s depiction of Armstrong’s continuing relationship with Ferrari. Like Armstrong, he has received a lifetime ban from USADA.
Ferrari, long thought of as the mastermind of Armstrong’s alleged doping plan, was investigated in Italy and Armstrong claimed he had cut ties with him after a 2004 conviction. USADA cites financial records that show payments of at least $210,000 in the two years after that.
“The repeated efforts by Armstrong and his representatives to mischaracterize and minimize Armstrong’s relationship with Ferrari are indicative of the true nature of that relationship,” the report states. “If there is not something to hide, there is no need to hide it and certainly no need to repeatedly lie about it.”
In some ways, the USADA report simply pulls together and amplifies allegations that have followed Armstrong ever since he beat cancer and won the Tour for the first time. At various times and in different forums, Landis, Hamilton and others have said that Armstrong encouraged doping on his team and used banned substances himself.
While the arguments about Armstrong will continue among sports fans — and there is still a question of whether USADA or the International Cycling Union (UCI) has ultimate control of taking away his Tour titles — the new report puts a cap on a long round of official investigations. Armstrong was cleared of criminal charges in February after a federal grand jury probe that lasted about two years.