|Picture from VeloNews of Hincapie and Armstrong|
This is Neal Rogers' account from VeloNews, which as I've said repeatedly over the last couple of years, is the most invaluable resource for news for all aspects of the sport of cycling. The report:
"George Hincapie, one of Lance Armstrong’s closest friends during their time together at the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams and the only member of all seven of Armstrong’s Tour de France-winning squads, testified before a federal grand jury that he and Armstrong had supplied one another with EPO and testosterone, CBS News reported Friday afternoon. According to CBS News, Hincapie testified that he and Armstrong supplied each other with EPO and discussed having used testosterone to prepare for races.
Through an attorney Hincapie declined to be interviewed, citing the ongoing federal investigation led by FDA agent Jeff Novitsky.
Hincapie, reached by VeloNews Thursday, declined to comment on Hamilton’s confession and accusation. 'I know you’ve got a job and you’ve got to ask these questions. I’ve got a job too. My job is here to race my bike, promote the sport that we all love; that I’ve sacrificed my whole life for. I just have no interest in dragging this sport through the mud, so I’m sorry, but I have no comment.'
When asked whether he had a reason to disbelieve Hamilton, Hincapie, who rode with him at Postal from 1997 to 2001, said, 'I’m sorry. I’m not commenting.'
The story’s release Friday afternoon was the latest salvo in a war of the words that broke out after CBS News broadcasted an interview with former Postal teammate Tyler Hamilton Thursday night, in which Hamilton said he had witnessed Armstrong inject himself with EPO. A full report, with more from Hamilton, is scheduled for Sunday evening. [Negotiations to obtain Armstrong's interview for the program ended with Armstrong's public relations folks accusing the 60 Minutes producers of not being "straight shooters."]
Armstrong downplayed the accusations by tweeting: '20+ year career. 500 drug controls worldwide, in and out of competition. Never a failed test. I rest my case.' In a letter to Fager, two of Armstrong’s lawyers, Robert Luskin and Ted Herman, said that 60 Minutes was engaged in 'disgraceful journalism' and 'a serious breach of the most fundamental journalistic principles.'
Hamilton and former USPS [ed. United States Postal Service] teammate Floyd Landis each have an uphill battle in establishing their credibility. Each changed their stories fundamentally — from vehemently denying doping, to confessing and accusing Armstrong and others.
Hincapie, however, a three-time U.S. national road champion, has a solid reputation, is the co-owner of a successful outdoor clothing brand, and has remained friendly with Armstrong. At times Armstrong and Hincapie have referred to each other as best friends, and in an interview last year, Armstrong described Hincapie as like a brother.' While 60 Minutes is reporting that Hincapie testified before a federal grand jury about his and Armstrong’s use of PEDs, he declined to be interviewed by '60 Minutes,' which will air its piece on the Armstrong investigation at 7 p.m. EDT Sunday.
Several sources have told VeloNews that the show will reveal further bombshells, beyond those of Hamilton and Hincapie."
The implications of the pending fraud charges against Armstrong, et al. is that proof of fraud destroys the illusion that these astounding athletic accomplishments, 7 Tour de France victories and many other victories worldwide were legitimately and legally achieved. The whole Livestrong Charitable foundation with its ubiquitous yellow rubber bracelets, the inspiring comeback from cancer all of that will appear to be rot. Hundreds of millions of dollars were amassed by Armstrong and his associates based on the representation that they rode these races clean. If Armstrong was lying he and his friends obtained these millions fraudulently. The sheer scale of the wrongdoing is such that under the federal sentencing guidelines Lance is looking at decades in federal prison.
For years, Lance skated despite rumors because it seemed unlikely that so many people (other cyclists, team managers, and others)who would have had known could have remained silent about performance enhancing drugs. But truth be told they weren't silent. When someone spoke up they were ostracized and ridiculed. Since other cyclist were involved, their testimony was immediately suspect. And since Lance never "tested positive" it was always claimed that he was riding clean. The thing is, cyclists cheat and manipulate their test results, and then again there were various claims of positive tests, and bribery, and manipulated controls. One of the most ludicrous moments in all of this was when Floyd Landis was caught trying to hack the computers at a testing lab in an apparent effort to manipulate a positive test result.