Leipheimer Dropped from Team

The Omega Pharma-Quick Step team has fired Levi Leipheimer after learning of his confession to doping as part of the Lance Armstrong investigation.

Acting as Armstrong’s teammate for five years at the United States Postal Service, Astana and RadioShack teams, the 38-year-old Leipheimer joined Quick Step in 2012.

Team management expressed surprise last week when Leipheimer came public with the news that he had testified to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and admitted taking banned substances himself.

They initially issued a statement clarifying that Leipheimer would be suspended immediately until they had time to examine the evidence in the USADA report, and that if he did dope, it means he lied when he agreed to be on the Omega Pharma QuickStep Team.

All team members have to state that they have never doped before signing on, and any revelations to the contrary results in a revocation of their contract.

In a statement on their website, team management wrote:

We commend the rider for his open co-operation with USADA and contribution to cleaning up the sport of cycling. However, in the light of the disclosures made by Mr Leipheimer in his public statement on 10th of October the team has decided to terminate the contract.
This decision has the full support of the team owner, the board represented by Mr Bessel Kok and team manager Mr Patrick Lefevere.

In a statement last week Leipheimer said: ”Today, I accept responsibility and USADA’s sanctions for participating in the dirty past of cycling. I’ve been racing clean for more than 5 years in a changed and much cleaner sport. I hope that my admission will help to make these changes permanent.”

Some fans visiting the Omega-Pharma Quickstep Team website expressed disappointment with the decision, which by some is seen as hypocritical given the extensive amount of doping around the world that riders in the USADA “reasoned decision” have testified to.

“Guess Levi gave them an easy excuss to free up slary room to pay Cav. Way to show your support for cleaning up the sport Omega! Disappointed,” wrote Steve Compton.

The reference was to hiring Mark Cavendish, the tremendous sprinter to the team.

“Terminating his contract because he helped cleaning up this sport does not make sense. I expect the team to give a concrete explanation. Otherwise, the image of the team will be deeply damaged, people will think the team does not support anyone looking forward to helping this sport,” wrote Bertrand Merle.

Belgian-based Omega-Pharma, one of the sponsors of the team had no mention of Leipheimer’s firing on their corporate site. The company made 856 million Euros in sales of pharmaceuticals in 2011, down from 900.6 M Euros in 2010, and would be unlikely to welcome any negative publicity concerning banned drug use.

QuickStep, the other partner is a laminate flooring maker, and has been supporting and sponsoring cyclists for years.

Other well known riders on the team include Tom Boonen (31), Sylvain Chavanel, (31), Peter Velits (26), Tony Martin, (28), Jerome Pineau, (31), and Niki Terpstra, (27).

 

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