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Armstrong doping allegations escalate

The US Anti-Doping Agency, USADA, has accused cycling champion Lance Armstrong of running the "most sophisticated" doping program in the sport's history. His lawyer has rejected the allegation as a "hatchet job."

The USADA revealed on Wednesday that it had collected extensive evidence to prove the seven-time Tour de France winner had engaged in the biggest doping conspiracy to date.

"The evidence of the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team-run scheme is overwhelming," USADA chief executive Travis T. Tygart said in a statement, summarizing more than 1,000-pages of agency findings which are due to be released on the agency's website.

"The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that the sport has ever seen."

Teammate testimony

The 1,000 page report was the result of a long-running investigation into Armstrong and the US Postal Service team after the anti-doping agency opted to ban the cyclist from the sport for life in August.

It includes the sworn testimony of 26 people, including 11 former Armstrong teammates. Among them was George Hincapie, who admitted in a statement Wednesday that he took performance-enhancing drugs.

"Lance Armstrong did not merely use performance-enhancing drugs. He supplied them to his teammates," the report said. "He was not just a part of the doping culture on his team. He enforced and re-enforced it."

Other riders cited in the report were Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.

According to Tygart, the report also included evidence of financial payments, emails and lab tests that "prove the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong." He said the report had been handed over to the International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Armstrong denies allegations

Armstrong, 41, was stripped of all his competitive results from 1988 onwards after he refused to challenge doping charges against him before a USADA arbitration panel. He has denied cheating, however, and never failed a doping test throughout his career.

Sean Breen, one of Armstrong's lawyers, rejected the allegations on Wednesday, news agency Reuters reported. "We have seen the press release from USADA touting the upcoming release today of its 'reasoned decision,'" Breen said.

"[Tygart's] statement confirms the alleged 'reasoned decision' from USADA will be a one-sided hatchet job - a taxpayer-funded tabloid piece rehashing old, disproved, unreliable allegations based largely on axe-grinders, serial perjurers, coerced testimony, sweetheart deals and threat-induced stories," he said.

ccp/slk (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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