Thu, Oct 18, 2012 - Page 19 News List

Ex-teammate of Lance Armstrong fired by team

AFP and Reuters, PARIS

US cyclist Levi Leipheimer was fired by his team Omega Pharma on Tuesday following his admission during the investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) into shamed compatriot Lance Armstrong that he took doping products.

The 38-year-old veteran — who rode with Armstrong for US Postal in 2000 and 2001 and then again with Discovery Channel in 2007 — was already serving a six-month suspension imposed by USADA backdated to Sept. 1.

He had also had his results from June 1 1999 to July 30 2006 and July 7 to July 29 2007 — the periods of time he admitted to doping as he continued with other teams, such as Rabobank and Gerolsteiner — erased from the record.

While Omega-Pharma praised Leipheimer for co-operating with USADA during their investigation, they added that in light of his declarations in a statement issued on Oct. 10, they had decided to terminate his contract with immediate effect.

Leipheimer admitted to taking several banned substances, including EPO and testosterone, as well as indulging in blood transfusion, which are prohibited.

The USADA stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and banned him from the sport for life after the organization said he orchestrated the most sophisticated doping program ever seen.

Released on Wednesday last week, it detailed Armstrong’s alleged use of testosterone, human growth hormone, blood doping and EPO and included sworn statements from 26 people, including 11 former teammates.

Armstrong has always maintained that he did not use banned substances during his career.

However, in August, he chose not to contest charges put forward by the USADA.

The sport’s governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI), which has also come under heavy criticism for not uncovering the alleged conspiracy while it was going on, has yet to endorse or reject USADA’s move to ban Armstrong from cycling for life and strip him of his Tour titles, a sanction that currently only has force in the US.

In related developments, Cycling Australia (CA) has fired elite men’s road coordinator Matt White after he confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs while riding for Armstrong’s US Postal team.

White, who had been named in the USADA dossier on Armstrong, made a public statement on Saturday in which he admitted to doping.

CA’s board said in a statement yesterday that White had made a valuable contribution to cycling in Australia and that his involvement with the national set-up had not gone “against the best interests of the sport.”

“However, the admissions contained within his public statement of Oct. 13 clearly place him in breach of the CA Anti-Doping Policy and Code of Conduct,” CA added. “Accordingly, the board has determined that his ongoing employment with CA is untenable and Matt was formally advised overnight of the termination of his contract.”

CA also said that while the International Cycling Union (UCI) had made progress in the fight against the use of performance-enhancing drugs, it had “failed to fully and properly do its part to stamp out doping.”

“How the UCI responds to the USADA file and how it addresses the allegations within it will be critical to the reputation of the organization and that of the sport of cycling,” it added.

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