Banking Legend's Financial Connections Helped Make Rampant Doping Possible, Suit Says

Thomas WeiselThomas Weisel

The drama surrounding Lance Armstrong has cast a harsh spotlight on a man who was one of his biggest supporters: Thomas Weisel, co-owner of the disgraced cyclist’s U.S. Postal Service Team.Weisel, who’s known on Wall Street for advising Yahoo and other tech giants, says he only recently learned Armstrong doped while riding for the USPS Team, The New York Times reported last night.

“Any allegation that I was aware of or condoned or supported doping by any team rider is false,” Weisel said.

A whistleblower suit filed by Armstrong’s USPS teammate Floyd Landis alleges Weisel’s connections helped make it possible for the entire team to dope while taking sponsorship money from the government.

That suit is currently under seal but was leaked yesterday a few hours before Armstrong’s big confession to Oprah Winfrey aired on primetime television.

Landis’ suit suggests Weisel had enormous financial influence over the U.S. Cycling Federation, the nation’s governing body for cycling.

When U.S. Cycling’s parent company USA Cycling was having financial problems, it was Weisel who stepped in to reorganize it, according to the suit, which cites Weisel’s biography “Capital Instincts.”

Weisel set up a nonprofit called the USA Cycling Development Foundation, which gave between $500,000 and $725,000 a year to USA Cycling between 2000 and 2003, the suit alleges, citing IRS tax forms.

From 2002 to 2008, Jim Ochowicz served as president of the board of USA Cycling while also working as a broker at Weisel’s investment bank, Landis says.

The suit adds:

“Mr. Landis is informed and believes that these conflicts of interest and overlapping relationships between USA Cycling, the USA Cycling Foundation, and Thomas Weisel helped make it possible for the USPS Team to carry on the extensive program of systematically doping team athletes during the period relevant to this complaint.”

The suit went on to add that based on the level of control Weisel had over the team, he was “knowledgeable about, and approved of, the doping program involving the USPS Team.”

Weisel says he’s cooperating with federal authorities and upset by the allegations.

“I am as dismayed as everyone else to see a sport that I love and have supported scandalized by this inexcusable behaviour,” he told The New York Times.

Business Insider was not able to immediately reach a representative of Weisel for comment.

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