George Hincapie Puts Last Nail On Lance Armstrong’s Sporting Career Coffin

One of Lance Armstrong’s former team-mates and closest allies, George Hincapie, has admitted to using performance enhancing drugs. The 39-year-old American, who rode alongside Armstrong in each of his seven Tour de France wins, released a statement a few hours ago that he cheated. Regarded as Armstrong’s unofficial lieutenant during his record breaking feats in the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005, Hincapie joined a list of former Armstrong teammates, including Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, to admit to doping. Landis, Hamilton, and Hincapie were among 11 riders identified as having provided evidence to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in its investigation into doping in cycling.

Hincapie has been hailed as “America’s premier classics rider” following his tremendous second-place finish at 2005 Paris-Roubaix, the highest ever placing for an American rider. A fifteen-time Tour de France veteran, Hincapie is also the only American to win the Ghent-Wevelgem and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne classics and also the only supporting rider to ever be on a Tour winning team eight times.

Hincapie said he was approached by US Federal investigators two years ago and more recently by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. He added that he stopped making use of drugs six years ago and decided to come out clean in public about his own past in a bid to restore credibility to the sport. Hincapie added that he used banned substances during a part of his career and it was difficult for him to acknowledge the same. The cyclist rendered an apology to his family, fans, and teammates and said that he is looking forward to playing a significant part in developing, encouraging and helping young riders to compete and win with the best in the world.

Hincapie said he had disclosed the details of his doping to investigators. It is believed that the veteran American cyclist who raced alongside Lance Armstrong acknowledged to Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, that he had used a banned drug that boosts the number of red blood cells (EPO), and also engaged in blood transfusions, which is another banned practice. It is also believed that Hincapie had provided USADA with testimony that implicated Armstrong in alleged doping, including testosterone and EPO use and blood transfusions.

George Hincapie had never tested positive for any banned substances during his career. He told Lance Armstrong was very upset after his team got crushed in a race in Italy and said he believed other riders were “using stuff” and that something needed to be done. George Hincapie said to the United States Anti-Doping Agency that he was “generally aware” that Armstrong was using testosterone throughout the time the two were teammates. Hincapie testified that Armstrong contacted him for using his apartment in Girona, Spain to attend some guests and showed up with Luis Garcia del Moral, a doctor who worked with the team, and carrying what he believes was a blood bag.

An attorney for Armstrong, Tim Herman, bashed the coming report from USADA and said Lance Armstrong was the victim of a “witch hunt.”

In light of his cooperation with USADA, Hincapie is expected to receive a six-month suspension preventing him from competing in elite-level sports. This would be some good news for him as he retired from professional cycling in August and has plans to act as a mentor to other cyclists.

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