Absolutely nothing to fear
USADA has been adamant it would not release details of its case to either Armstrong or the UCI, both for fear of witness intimidation, and because, as general counsel Bill Bock wrote in a July 26 letter, the UCI had adopted “some of the arguments now being advanced by Mr. Armstrong’s lawyers and public relations consultants.”
When one journalist suggested to McQuaid that USADA was resistant to hand over the case files because there was evidence that would incriminate the UCI — including the alleged UCI cover-up of Armstrong’s 2001 Tour de Suisse positive and allegations that the UCI has tipped off riders and teams as to when to expect out-of-competition testers — Verbiest said that would not change the rules of jurisdiction.
“There is no case against the UCI,” Verbiest said. “We can only see that six (charging) letters have been sent out to six individuals, and no one else.”
“There’s a lot in those letters that’s making statements without anyone knowing the facts,” said McQuaid. “If they have evidence against the UCI they should share it with the UCI and ask us our opinion. It’s very easy to take statements from people and put them into a charge, and say that they are evidence. But they need facts to back up those statements.
“The UCI has absolutely nothing to fear in relation to samples going under the counter, because it’s never happened,” McQuaid said. “Nothing to fear in that. A lot of what I’ve read over the years are statements coming from people like (Floyd) Landis and (Tyler) Hamilton that are hearsay about statements that were made out on the bike in training. That’s all it is. The actual facts — which we have gone through a lot of trouble to find out, a couple of years ago — show that the evidence is not there. There is no hard evidence — because it didn’t happen.”
After VeloNews suggested that the UCI make public its records from the 2001 Tour de Suisse doping controls, McQuaid answered, “I’m sure we could,” with Verbiest adding, “it was made public that we knew the names of all athletes that were declared positive of all the athletes that were positive for EPO, and none of those athletes were Lance Armstrong. That is all one can do.”
When a journalist asked McQuaid whether, if USADA’s evidence were to ultimately result in sanctions — and prove that the UCI had been involved in a Tour de Suisse positive cover-up — McQuaid answered, “In the first part of the question, if a review group looked at it and decided that they should be sanctioned, and they were sanctioned, I have no problem with that. To the second part of the question, I don’t accept it, because in asking that, you’re making an accusation against the UCI which I know to be untrue.”
Bending the rules
In the back and forth between the UCI and USADA over the evidence gathered, one glaring question yet to be asked is whether or not the international federation has reached out to any of USADA’s “more than 10” members of Armstrong’s Postal team that provided testimony to either USADA and/or the federal investigation that was dropped in early February.
Asked by VeloNews if McQuaid had spoken personally to any of the riders widely believed to have provided USADA with testimony, McQuaid said he had not.
“No. I don’t even know who they are,” he said. “We haven’t had any communication from the federal investigators, other than one email from the deputy attorney’s office asking what year the EPO rule went into the UCI rules. That was the only contact.”
McQuaid acknowledged that there is no rule prohibiting the UCI from reaching out to athletes to ask what sort of testimony they might have provided to either the U.S. Department of Justice or USADA, or any other doping investigation. Those riders are widely believed to include Americans Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, Frankie Andreu, George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, Levi Leipheimer and Dave Zabriskie.
“I’ve only read speculation,” he said. “I have an idea who they are, but only speculation. I don’t think there would be any value in that. I don’t think George Hincapie would necessarily tell us what he told the federal investigators, or what USADA has in the file. I don’t necessarily think that would be appropriate. The case is based on the file. We have no proof as to who the eight or 10 witnesses are. I have an idea, but I don’t think it would be appropriate to ring someone and ask, ‘what did you say to this or that?’.”
“It would be far more appropriate that the file is opened to the UCI,” Verbiest added. “And in the first instance, to those who have been sent to disciplinary hearings. That is the most astonishing aspect of this case.”
Asked if he felt USADA and WADA had spent years specifically targeting Armstrong, McQuaid said he did, adding, “and they are prepared to allow the rules to be bent.”
Tygart fires back
Reached for comment on McQuaid’s statements, USADA CEO Travis Tygart wrote to VeloNews via email: “UCI’s various contrasting positions and public comments concerning our USPS case are baffling, especially in light of the fact that we have offered to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and have all the evidence of the USPS doping conspiracy presented in open court for the independent judges to consider and ultimately decide once and for all. We will continue to do our job on behalf of clean athletes and pressure from external sources including UCI’s will not prevent us from simply doing the job we are mandated to do.”