By Jen Benepe, July 5, 2012
News surfaced today that Levi Leipheimer who is riding in the Tour this year, is allegedly one of the 10 persons to be testifyng against Lance Armstrong in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s actions against the previous seven-time Tour winner.
“I really don’t have anything to say. All I can say is that I am here at the Tour de France, I am 100 percent focussed on this race. So far I am still in the hunt for the classification. That is all I have to say,” he told reporters, reported VeloNation.
According to Telesport, a source has confirmed that Leipheimer, George Hincapie of the BMC Racing Team, Christian Vande Velde and Dave Zabriskie and manager Jonathan Vaughters of the Garmin Sharp Team have all spoken to the USADA and are witnesses in the case.
Telesport is part of the newspaper De Telegraaf, a Dutch publication. Johan Bruyneel, a former US Postal Service manager is a columnist for them. He is missing this year’s Tour because of the charges he faces from USADA, which could result in a lifetime ban for him, Lance Armstrong and four others, according to reports.
Those witnesses have been allegedly given reduced 6-month penalties for their own drug suspensions, according to the same news reports.
A stern reprimand from the USADA directed at the media referred to the “threats and intimidation” that witnesses would receive, ostensibly from Lance Armstrong and his ‘giant’ PR machine, which they have often referred to before as their putative reason for not releasing the names of the witnesses.
Armstrong’s legal team has issued a copy of their original reply to the USADA’s original action against him stating emphatically that to compare Armstrong to the Mafia, as they did when they suggested he would issue an “omerta” against witnesses, as reason to withold those names, was illegal and outrageous.
In their statement issued today, the USADA was firm in stating that the names of witnesses would not be confirmed and any attempts to do so by the media were irresponsible and added to the pain of the process:
“USADA’s investigation into doping in the sport of cycling continues. No individual cases have been finalized, and any attempt to guess at whom potential witnesses might be only leads to inaccurate information being reported and subjects those named to unnecessary scrutiny, threats and intimidation. It is important to remember that the truth would often be suppressed without witnesses who at great cost to themselves are willing to tell the truth under oath about what they saw and experienced, and any attempt to circumvent the proper procedures in order to bully or silence people who may or may not be witnesses cannot be tolerated.”