Armstrong witnesses confess: report

Tour de France,Cycling Central,FRA,Lance Armstrong,AUS,SBS,Doping,Tour de France,George Hincapie
Lance Armstrong will have to face the allegations of several team-mates when his case comes to arbitration later this year.

Five former team-mates of Lance Armstrong have made a deal with the US Anti Doping Agency to admit they doped in exchange for damning testimony against the seven-time Tour de France winner, according to a report by Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

No six month suspensions have been given to any member of Slipstream Sports. Today or at any future date.

The deal offered by USADA will slap a six-month sentence on Levi Leipheimer, Dave Zabriskie, Christian Vande Velde, George Hincapie and Jonathan Vaughters, and presumably the other as yet unnamed riders involved in the investigation against Armstrong.

De Telegraaf's report claims the bans will not begin until as late as October of this year, meaning all four active riders will in theory be able to complete the current Tour de France, as well potentially the Vuelta a Espana, the last grand tour of the season.

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme denied knowledge of the story when contacted by Cyclingnews.

Jonathan Vaughters meanwhile denied claims that any member of his team or himself had been served with a 6 month ban, at this time, or at any future date.

All five named by De Telegraaf were called before the FDA grand jury last year when the investigation into potential fraud at Armstrong's former team, US Postal, was still underway.

That investigation was shelved in February, but USADA went on with the case.

USADA filed its own case on 14 June, naming a long list of serious allegations against the former US Postal, Discovery Channel, Astana, and RadioShack rider as well as RadioShack-Nissan's team manager Johan Bruyneel, three doctors, and a trainer.

Among the accusations listed were a conspiracy by all involved in covering up doping at the team, blood doping, use of human growth hormone (HGH), EPO, testosterone, and other methods.

Armstrong fired back his own response in the days that followed, and added recently via Twitter that he refused to be distracted by the antics of USADA.

"I refuse to be distracted by @usantidoping's antics," the seven-time Tour de France champion posted on Twitter, a day after USADA announced it had filed the charges that could cost him his seven titles in the world's most prestigious cycling race.

Armstrong tweeted: "It's 2012, I'm gonna continue to lead @LIVESTRONG, raise my 5 kids, and stay fit!"

The case will next be brought to an arbitration panel which will hear the case.

If the allegations prove to be true, the American could be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles as well as receiving a lifetime ban from cycling.

Leipheimer, Zabriskie, Vande Velde and Hincapie are all currently riding the Tour, while Vaughters is overseeing the efforts of Garmin-Sharp.

Update and Reactions

Addressing the media from the steps of his team bus, Jonathan Vaughters, Garmin-Sharp general manager read a statement which rejected the allegations in a De Telegraaf story suggesting he, and two of his riders had, or would be sanctioned by USADA.

"We reaffirm our stance against doping, and our commitment to clean and fair sport," he told a huge press pack.

BMC's Jim Ochowicz maintained that he nor the team would not comment on stories in the media but they did not know details of. He maintained that no rider on the team has been served with any ban from USADA.

George Hincapie added in a press conference that he was "simply here to help Cadel win the Tour de France".

He also said:

"I haven't spoken to Lance in a long time, but I think what he's done for cycling has been admirable.

"I've always done the right thing by the sport."

George Hincapie statement by Cycling Central

One of four riders Dutch outlet De Telegraaf overnight reported has confessed to doping while a member of Lance Armstrong’s US Postal Service cycling team, Omega Pharma-Quick Step leader Levi Leipheimer responds to the newspaper's assertions at the start of the fifth stage in Rouen.

Tour de France Stage 5 - Levi Leipheimer responds to alleged doping confession by Cycling Central

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