The day of reckoning in the public sphere has arrived - the US Anti-Doping Agency released to the public details of its case against Lance Armstrong and four other members of the US Postal cycling team, finally shedding light on the evidence it deemed sufficient to hand a lifetime ban to Armstrong. The full "reasoned report" being submitted to the UCI is in excess of 1,000 pages, though the summary of the report released to the public is a mere 200 pages.
The content of the report counters one argument oft repeated by Armstrong's legal team - that the charges leveled against him and the evidence brought to bear is merely the result of false accusations by jealous and bitter individuals. Though the case against Armstrong is built in large part on the testimony of 26 individuals, 11 of whom were teammates of Armstrong, there is also "direct documentary evidence including financial payments, emails, scientific data and laboratory tests that further prove the use, possession, and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong." Among the evidence are proof of payment to trainer Michele Ferrari both during Armstrong's time on the US Postal and Discovery teams but also during his return to the sport in 2009-2010.
The eleven teammates of Armstrong who testified are Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters, and David Zabriskie. Six of the eleven have left competitive cycling, either through retirement or as the result of positive doping test. Andreau, Swart, and Vaughters retired from competitive cycling years ago, though Vaughters manages the Garmin-Sharp team. Swart detailed drug use with Armstrong beginning in the era when both were on the Motorola cycling team - before Armstrong was diagnosed with cancer - in his book L.A. Confidential: The Secrets of Lance Armstrong, which was published in France in 2004. Vaughters has been candid recently about his prior drug use in the sport and is now a vehement advocate for clean racing.
Hincapie and Barry both retired after the 2012 racing season, but Danielson, Leipheimer, Vande Velde, and Zabriskie still continue to race. They will receive suspensions for their admissions to having used banned substances, though details are not yet available. Rumors from credible sources indicate they will likely receive short six month suspensions in return for their cooperation. If these were back-dated to their last dates of competition, riders would be able to return to racing by Paris-Nice in March.
Vaughters revealed earlier this year that Zabriskie, Vande Velde, and Danielson had admitted to doping in their past, though the riders had not spoken much about the revelation in the interim between the outing and the release of the USADA report. Today, statements from several of Armstrong's teammates have been released, including one by George Hincapie and Christian Vande Velde. Hincapie's testimony is likely to be the most damning in the public sphere after Armstrong described him as "like a brother" in an interview in 2010.
Watch for a more detailed analysis of the report here at the Cafe in the near future. But if you really, really want some reading material, you can download the report (Thanks, Ted!) and read it yourself. Because, really, this is totally going to make for an exciting night's worth of reading.