“Refusing to cooperate with USADA was Armstrong’s biggest mistake”

The journalist of The Times David Walsh has published this Saturday in the British newspaper The Times an extensive tribune in which he gives more details about what happened in the case of Lance Armstrong and how the Texan cyclist fell into hell.

Walsh, whom Armstrong called a “fucking little troll” Due to the insinuations that the journalist made about the then alleged doping of the American since 1999, he confesses that, over time, he has become aware of the ferocious USADA campaign against the Texan. “At the time I did not appreciate the cruelty with which USADA exposed Armstrong as a cheat nor did I understand the severity of the punishment. His seven Tour de France victories were stripped away and he was banned for life. For the same infraction, his companions were sentenced to six months. They had cooperated, he didn’t.”

The journalist also affirms that despite the fact that the USADA notified Armstrong of the information they had after the confessions of his former teammates, the cyclist’s lawyers decided to ignore this information. “One by one Armstrong’s teammates were persuaded to talk to Travis Tygart. By June 2012, USADA already had so much information about Armstrong that they sent him a letter saying they had to reveal everything he knew. The response came from Robert Luskin, a Washington attorney representing Armstrong who said the investigation ‘was a vendetta. that it had nothing to do with knowing the truth, they just want to settle accounts and get publicity thanks to Lance, we will not be part of this farce’”.

However, everything changed when USADA decided to present the evidence against him in court. “Ten years later you see how Armstrong walked wide-eyed into an ambush. USADA had their weapons in position, they took him to the cliff and challenged him to try to flee. His lawyers filed an 80-page appeal in which they said that the USADA case violated their client’s constitutional rights. Judge Sam Sparks dismissed it. The shooting had started.

The USADA report also reached the UCI, who were unable to prevent full details of the Armstrong case from being made public. “USADA sent their report to the UCI, who were always supportive of Armstrong and still believed they could protect him, although they had to see the report. On the afternoon of October 10, UCI attorney Philippe Verbiest spoke to USADA attorney Bill Bock to send it to him. ‘We can send it to you….or you can see it when he’s up publicly in an hour.’ Bock asked ‘Are you still there?’ to which Verbiest replied: ‘You can’t do that!’”

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A fact that was not expected in Armstrong’s environment and that visibly infuriated the Texan cyclist. “The UCI contacted Armstrong’s lawyers and that was the point at which they assumed they had lost. For years Armstrong was untouchable by public opinion, but now everyone could see every detail of the case and the game was about to change.. Tim Herman, his closest lawyer, broke the news to Armstrong, who said: ‘Are you serious? How did we let this happen?’ The report was 202 pages long and had over 1,000 pages of supporting evidence.”

Walsh also reveals that USADA gave Armstrong the opportunity to cooperate months before the report, and that had he done so, he would have only missed two Tours and only been banned for two to four years. “Four months earlier Armstrong could have told USADA his story. In return he would have returned two of the seven Tours of his and receive a sanction of two to four years. With five Tours, Armstrong would be at the level of Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault and Indurain. Refusing to cooperate with USADA was Armstrong’s biggest mistake.”

Armstrong also attended another meeting with Tygart after the publication of the report in which he was offered another eight-year sanction reduction, although the Texan rejected it because he demanded a six-month punishment, like his teammates, or at most two years. “Two months after the report was published, Armstrong had another opportunity to reach a settlement with USADA. He met with Tygart and Bock in Denver, and Armstrong admitted his mistakes. Tygart said that information could reduce his life sentence to eight years but Armstrong wanted the sentence to be reduced to the six months with which he punished his teammates. team or, at most, two years”.

Finally Walsh made this reflection on the success of Armstrong with his podcast and, despite the aggressive mentality of the Texan, he believes that the punishment for Armstrong has been excessive. “Armstrong has rebuilt his life and now has a successful podcast. He presented it during the Tour de France and it was very popular. Within the Tour de France he remains a persona non grata, which stands out given the large number of former dopers who have been well received on their return. Compared to the rest, his punishment is draconian and probably excessive, but that was about him. The mentality in his seven Tour de France was the same that led him to lose those seven Tours and be banned for life. What worked for him in victory was disastrous for his downfall.”

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