Belgian squad fires American over his doping admission in the Armstrong case
Omega Pharma-Quick Step has terminated its contract with American Levi Leipheimer following his admission last week that he doped between 1999 and 2007. Leipheimer was a witness in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s case against Lance Armstrong and detailed his use of performance enhancing drugs in a sworn affidavit and in an op-ed for the website of The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
“We commend the rider for his open cooperation with USADA and contribution to cleaning up the sport of cycling,” the team said in a statement. “However, in the light of the disclosures made by Mr. Leipheimer in his public statement on 10th of October the team has decided to terminate the contract.
“This decision has the full support of the team owner, the board represented by Mr. Bessel Kok and team manager Mr. Patrick Lefevere.”
As one of 11 former Armstrong teammates to testify before the USADA investigators, Leipheimer has admitted to using performance enhancing drugs and methods between 1999 and 2007 while riding for Saturn, U.S. Postal Service, Rabobank, Gerolsteiner and Astana. Lefevere last week told VeloNews that Leipheimer only informed him of his upcoming admission and outing by USADA hours before the news hit.
“He called me one hour before the statement was released,” Lefevere said. “He never told us anything before we signed him and nothing at all this year. It’s a big mess. The easiest thing would be to say, ‘end of story.’ Many will defend him. We will have to see what our board and sponsors say. I don’t think it’s a big mess for us. It’s clear it’s all about the past.”
Lefevere admitted in 2007 to having used doping products, including amphetamines, during his own career.
Leipheimer was not immediately available for comment. As one of four active riders to testify in the Armstrong investigation, Leipheimer is the first rider fired over revelations of his past doping activities. The Garmin-Sharp squad of Tom Danielson, Christian Vande Velde and Dave Zabriskie — the other three active riders to testify — spoke out in support of its riders on Wednesday.
Leipheimer finished third in the 2007 Tour de France, won the bronze medal in the time trial at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, won the U.S. professional road race championship in 2007 and is a three-time champion of the Amgen Tour of California (2007-2009).