In interviews with the Wall Street Journal, four former teammates of Lance Armstrong have supported the US Anti-Doping Agency’s allegations against one of the team’s former doctors, Garcia del Moral.
The doctor himself denied the charges.
The four former Armstrong teammates included Floyd Landis, who has already publicly admitted to doping and accused Armstrong of doping. The other three riders were not named. All four cyclists, presumably, were among the “more than 10” cyclists who the USADA says provided evidence against Armstrong.
The doctor, known to the US Postal cycling team as “El Gato Negro,” or the Black Cat.
According to Landis, del Moral was hired in 1999 and immediately designed the team’s doping program.
At the Tour de France, Armstrong’s teammates told the Journal, the doctor worked out of an office in the back of the team’s bus, where he administered drugs and blood transfusions to the cyclists behind closed doors. One of the riders said del Moral told him, “You’re not a real professional if you don’t take drugs.” Floyd Landis said he used to go to del Moral’s office in Valencia to have blood drawn and that this blood then appeared at the Tour de France where it was tranfused back into him.
Garcia del Moral currently works with many other athletes, including tennis player Sara Errani, who just made a surprising run to the finals of the French Open. He told the Journal he has never provided athletes with banned drugs or performed illegal procedures. He is very concerned that the USADA’s allegations will damage his reputation and business.
This is the latest in a burst of news about the Lance Armstrong saga following the USADA’s doping charges last week. Italian investigators have reportedly uncovered a $465,000 payment that Lance Armstrong made to another team doctor who has been sanctioned for doping violations, Michele Ferrari. And four former teammates of Armstrong’s just mysteriously withdrew their names from consideration for the US Olympic team.
The Journal’s story was written by Reed Albergotti, David Roman, and Vanessa O’Connell. You can read it here >
NOTE: Almost everyone has strong feelings about the Armstrong case, both pro and con. Lance Armstrong’s supporters fiercely support him and don’t want to see his amazing accomplishments tarnished any more than they already have been (and, doped or not, the accomplishments are still amazing). They also point out that this is all very old news and that the country has better things to focus on. Others, meanwhile, simply want to know the truth. I’m in the latter camp. I followed Lance Armstrong’s Tour victories minute by minute, and those and his charitable work have always been hugely inspiring to me. Based on all that has come out about cycling in the past decade, I have come to assume that pretty much everyone in the sport doped and that you had to dope if you wanted to be competitive. Given this, I can certainly understand why Lance Armstrong would have doped, and if he did, I’m not going to get on some huge moral high horse about his “cheating.” (“Cheating” gives you an unfair advantage over the rest of the field. You don’t get that if everyone else in the field is doing the same thing.) If Lance Armstrong didn’t dope, meanwhile, and everyone else–including his teammates–did, his accomplishments are that much more staggering. And inasmuch as we’ve come this far, I want to know the truth.
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