The Vital Landis letter

This is the second biggest anti-doping investigation in cycling, especially against Tour de France competitors. In 1998, the ‘Festina affair’ following confiscation of a large amount of doping substances in a Festina vehicle led to the findings of systematic doping by several cyclists. Several personnel were arrested and detained.

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Those who testified against Armstrong included 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis (in pic.), who was caught doping and suspended, and whose letter to the USADA in April, 2010 might have contributed to the launching of the investigations. Others included Tyler Hamilton, Olympic gold medallist in 2004 who surrendered his medal after confessing to a Grand Jury in 2010 that he had doped, and George Hincapie who was on the side of Armstrong in all the seven Tour wins. Almost all riders also admitted that they too had doped. Six of the active riders who confessed were suspended by the USADA and proceedings will be launched against them. The USADA action has triggered confessions by cyclists in other countries, and follow-up action.

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The USADA says Armstrong refused to co-operate with it in the investigations. Had he done that he might have saved five of his seven Tour de France titles since the ‘statute of limitations’ could have been applied to keep those titles away from the purview of the current action.

Major sponsors including Nike, Anheuser-Busch and Trek have broken ties with Armstrong prompting him to step down from the chairmanship of Livestrong, the foundation he set up to help cancer patients.

A Dallas promotions company that paid Armstrong more than seven million dollars as bonuses for winning the Tour de France titles is demanding refund. The UCI is also asking him to return the prize money, around three million dollars, that he earned mainly from his wins in the Tour.