Belgian pro cycling team Omega Pharma Quickstep fired decorated US pro cyclist Levi Leipheimer on Tuesday for his connection with the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.
In the investigation by the USADA into doping by members of the US Postal Service pro cycling team, Leipheimer admitted in testimony that he had used illegal performance-enhancing drugs during his career.
The 38-year-old cyclist, who makes his home in Santa Rosa, was suspended from professional cycling for six months by the USADA, along with five other cyclists who admitted to cheating. They received a light suspension because they cooperated with the investigation and would be eligible to race on March 1, 2013.
The Omega Pharma Quickstep team issued this statement on Tuesday:
“Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team announces that the contract with Mr Leipheimer has been terminated, effective immediately.
“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 transcript of his testimony, Leipheimer admitted to starting use of EPO as a member of the Saturn team, the year before he joined US Postal Service cycling team. On Postal, Leipheimer said he was coached on how to use EPO without getting caught.
He continued using performance-enhancing drugs on the Rabobank team from 2002 to 2004 and Gerolsteiner from 2005 to 2006.
By 2007, the US Postal Service team had become the Discovery Channel team and Leipheimer said he agreed to blood-doping for the Tour de France that year. He stopped using illegal performance enhancing drugs after 2007, he testified.
Three other cyclists
In addition to the 6-month suspension, Leipheimer lost all race results from June 1999 to July 2006 and July 2007. That includes four top-10 finishes in the Tour de France.
Of the six active US cyclists who testified against Armstrong, George Hincapie and Michael Barry retired this year. The remaining three — David Zabriskie, Tom Danielson and Christian Vande Velde — all ride for Garmin-Sharp. They all received a 6-month suspension from pro cycling that ends March 1.
The transcript of Leipheimer’s testimony is an interesting read, especially in how drugs were passed back and forth among the teams and cyclists and how Leipheimer felt threatened by Armstrong when he started cooperating with authorities.
The Levi Effect
Coincidentally, a one-night movie event entitled “The Levi Effect: The Untold Story of Cyclist Levi Leipheimer” is scheduled in theaters nationwide on Oct. 23.
Here’s a short promo at right. In light of the news of the past couple of weeks, it’s hard to keep a straight face while hearing the dialogue even in this trailer.
Theater locations and tickets for this one-time event are available at this link.