Cycling is at a critical turning point with the US doping agency ruling Lance Armstrong guilty of doping throughout his career. Several cyclists have now admitted they doped in their careers, but the Texan who won the Tour de France seven times is keeping quiet.

“We must break with the hypocrisy,” Classics star, Johan Museeuw told newspaper Gazet Van Antwerpen yesterday. “The only way out of that murderous spiral is to stop the continued denial, the silence that continues to haunt us.”

The Belgian ruled one-day racing for a decade, from the early 1990s into the 2000s. He said, at that time for “almost everyone” doping was part of the sport. On a positive note, he said the peloton has never been cleaner.

Armstrong raced for much of the same period and won the Tour from 1999 to 2005. He has yet to confess, but due to the testimony of several of his team-mates the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) ruled he possessed, trafficked and administered banned drugs and methods.

Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde, David Zabriskie, George Hincapie and other current pros are said to have given damning statements against Armstrong. The rumours reached a boiling point as this year’s Tour and travelled through northern France. Journalists asked them about their testimony and if they had doped, but they replied with blank stares or in Leipheimer’s case “no comment” (repeated nine times).

Jonathan Vaughters, a former Armstrong team-mate and general manager of Garmin-Sharp, dodged the question. Since, though, he has come clean. Last month, he wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times and said, “I chose to dope. I am sorry for that decision, and I deeply regret it.”

On Tuesday, he appeared to ‘out’ three of his cyclists – Vande Velde, Zabriskie and Tom Danielson – in Cyclingnews’ forum. Regarding a question put to him about not hiring Jörg Jaksche, who was involved in Operación Puerto, he wrote “CVV, Zabriskie, Danielson, while all clearly have a past, and from an ethical standpoint are no different from JJ [Jaksche]…”

Danielson also raced with Armstrong in 2005. He and the others have kept quiet, but Jan Ullrich, Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis and Frankie Andreu have confessed. Hamilton released a book on Wednesday in the USA, where he detailed doping practices, including in the years he raced with Armstrong.

“He was incapable of being passive, because he was haunted by what others might be doing,” Hamilton wrote in The Secret Race, according to the Telegraph. “I came to think of it as Lance’s Golden Rule: Whatever you do, those other ****** are doing more.”

Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) admitted immediately to EPO use when caught this year. Riccardo Riccò took some time to come around. Filippo Pozzato and Fränk Schleck have ties via payments to known doping specialists, but said they only received training plans. Pozzato paid up to €50,000 to Michele for plans and faces a year ban, Schleck got off for paying Eufemiano Fuentes €7000.

The failure to reveal the truth is a “murderous spiral” according to Museeuw. It is a code of silence or omerta upheld by Ivan Basso, Alejandro Valverde and others, including quite possibility the next Vuelta a España winner, Alberto Contador.

Some only speak frankly only to prosecutors, like Giovanni Visconti (Movistar). Even if he is top form, Italy refuses to field him in its World Championships team.

“There are cyclists with cases open, and there is evidence that shows them guilty,” Italian federation president, Renato Di Rocco told Cycling Weekly. “Visconti already talked to the CONI prosecutor… we are forced to say no [to his selection].”

Armstrong, given the chance, refused to speak to USADA’s Travis Tygart and accepted guilty rather than facing an arbitration panel.

“People want to see those lone breaks in the mountains. I remember watching when I was a kid, [Richard] Virenque and stuff, but that’s not realistic anymore,” Bradley Wiggins said after his Tour win. He added, it is not realistic “unless you have a couple of extra litres of blood.”

Related links

McQuaid: UCI will not shy away fron sanctioning Armstrong

Armstrong says he is still a seven-time Tour winner

Lance Armstrong to be stripped of his Tour de France titles

Armstrong attacks USADA for opening formal action against him

Armstrong banned from triathlons as new doping charges are brought against him

Judge dismisses Armstrong lawsuit against USADA

UCI attempts to block USADA Armstrong case

  • Crazytrucker

    Pretty soon we’ll be at the stage where all the records similar to Baseball come with an * marking clean, possibly clean and outright dopers!
    Ian Franklin makes valid points, grant an amnesty provided the dopers come clean and repent their sins and from a certain date anybody caught doping gets a lifetime ban, end of!
    I was present on the ’98 tour, you know the one, THE FESTINA SCANDAL one! Marco Pantani became a hero of mine, alas similar to Armstrong I worshipped false idols, Marco died far too young, and there is now so much brown and smelly stuff surrounding Lance that I no longer know what to believe, but what gives the USADA the right to strip Armstrong of anything? Certainly not the 7 Tour de France titles, and on what evidence? On the testimony of a few discredited and near retirement or actually retired riders?

  • ian franklin

    There is a turning point now with the doping revelations and I note that Pat McQ is now talking about an amnesty for that period. Whether that is a sop for LA or not, one does not know. But I suggested two years ago that: a) All admitted doping infractions of the past – especially from the days of the souped-up era – to be amnestied provided that the users make a full and frank statement about their involvement. I think that would cover 90% of the peloton from the ‘bad’ era. Followed by (b) Any new doping cases from the date of the announcement to be dealt with on a no second chance basis – ie 5 year bans miimum as we do not want these people in the sport,
    I felt that if the UCI had doe this a couple of years ago the cleaning up of the sport would have been a lot quicker and ultimately more successful.

  • stuart stanton

    what an awful shambles I don’t know what is more depressing, this of the pathetic goings-on at Welsh Cycling. Those lot down there should be ashamed of themselves They have the most beautiful country on earth to promote cycling in and all they want to do is ban people from taking part. Personally, I got out and joined the Welsh Language Society, Cymdeithas yr iaith Gymraeg.

  • JohnD

    The question is how many pros are still doping and how many established names did it in the past.

    This looks like a situation that could quickly go horribly wrong for cycling. Think of the Operation Puerto scandal of a few years ago and then imagine half the peloton having to own up. Kapow.