USA Cycling seems to have come down on the side of USADA in the ongoing Lance Armstrong doping saga, announcing today that it will enforce the USADA recommended suspensions of five U.S. riders — Tom Danielson, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie.
The suspensions were effective on September 1st and each is the minimum six months. This basically means that the riders will not be able to compete during the traditional off season.
George Hincapie recently retired from the sport, but the others are still actively competing. Only Leipheimer’s Omega Pharma Quick Step has taken action against their athlete, placing him in a non-competitive status. Danielson, Vande Velde and Zabriskie all ride for Slipstream Sports’ Garmin-Sharp squad. That team is led by Jonathan Vaughters, who also provided testimony to USADA.
USA Cycling’s stance comes as a little bit of a surprise. They had previously made some rumbling about questioning the authority of USADA in levying rider suspensions.
Here’s the full statement from USA Cycling:
USA Cycling has been notified by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that five U.S. riders — Tom Danielson, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie — have each accepted six-month suspensions, effective Sept. 1, 2012, as a result of their testimony in the Lance Armstrong investigation. USA Cycling will enforce these sanctions and is currently reviewing the impact of the sanctions on historical results.
In announcing the enforcement of these suspensions, USA Cycling President and CEO Steve Johnson said “I am glad to see the release of the Reasoned Decision by USADA and the official announcement of the sanctions accepted by the riders who participated in the investigation. More importantly, I would like to personally acknowledge the extraordinary courage of these riders who placed their careers on the line in order to come forward with their experiences of past doping practices. While this is an extremely difficult time for the sport, I believe that riders of today understand that doping is intolerable, that it will be discovered, and that a decision to engage in doping in any form is senseless. As a result, I am greatly encouraged that the culture of professional cycling has changed and the future of our sport has never been brighter.”
USA Cycling remains committed to a drug-free sport and fully supports the efforts by the USADA, WADA, the UCI and the IOC to ensure a competitive environment that is free from performance enhancing substances and methods. Toward this end, the sport of cycling continues to lead the way in the development of new means of identifying doping, and is the only sport to use the UCI’s innovative Biological Passport to identify potential violators. Additionally, in 2011 alone, USADA performed 989 tests on cycling athletes, both in-competition and out-of-competition, while the International Cycling Union (UCI) conducted 13,745 medical control tests worldwide.