Dutch newspaper “de Telegraaf” published a spectacular story, claiming to have identified at least five witnesses for the USADA in the Lance case (aside from the already obvious Floyd, Tyler and Frankie).
Of course none of these five (Hincapie, Leipheimer, Zabriskie, Vandevelde and Vaughters) are confirmed by USADA or themselves, but it can’t be too big a shock. If the charge is that Lance, Bruyneel et al set up a doping program and forced their teammates to participate, you would expect supporting witness statements to come from those teammates, not from the local butcher or a Miss World contestant.
I suspect the story is not 100% accurate, in particular the claim that those who admitted to doping have been given a 6 month sentence to be served in the off-season. If that were to be true, it would be a travesty. I can imagine cases where people receive a reduced sentence in exchange for their cooperation, I can even imagine situations where people receive full immunity. But I cannot imagine that an anti-doping agency would pretend to sentence an athlete, yet do it in a way that it doesn’t affect him. That would be so cynical and an insult to the public’s intelligence.
Additionally, I would find it hard to believe that USADA would give Leipheimer (for whom this would be his second doping violation) the same penalty as the others for whom it would be their first offense. So all in all, I find that part of the story hard to believe.
Anyway, as those involved deny they got suspensions but don’t deny they gave testimony, maybe that tells us something. Nothing “beyond reasonable doubt”, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to conclude that if the whole story were false, they would deny everything. Now that they deny only a detail, it’s likely that detail is in fact incorrect and the rest is not. Frankly, the “miraculously delayed suspensions” sound a bit Fabianesque.
But of course, all of this is speculation.
To be continued Monday, you can subscribe to this blog if you don’t want to miss it.