Hincapie, Vaughters and Ochowicz respond to USADA witness claims
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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hincapie, Vaughters and Ochowicz respond to USADA witness claims

by Shane Stokes at 6:41 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
All say their focus is on the Tour de France, Vaughters restates team will cooperate with any investigators

George HincapieFollowing on from today’s earlier news claiming that George Hincapie (BMC Racing Team), Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma Quick Step), the Garmin-Sharp riders Dave Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde plus Jonathan Vaughters have given evidence to USADA about doping on the US Postal Service team, two of those five have responded.

Hincapie was approached by reporters before the start and said that he had nothing to say about the allegations. “I am just disappointed that this has been brought up again. I feel like I have always tried to do the right thing for the sport,” he said, in response to questions. “Right now I am here to do my job and I am just going to try to focus on that. BMC has nothing to do with this. Cadel obviously is focussed on winning the Tour and I am here to try to help him do that. I am going to continue to do that and to try not to let anything get in my mind beside that.”

As has been the case in the past, he has not responded directly about claims that he has spoken to investigators. Asked if he had spoken to Armstrong, he said that it has been some time since they were in contact.

“I haven’t in a while. I feel bad that he is going through all this,” he said. “Lance has done so many things for the sport. His accomplishments are incredible, what he has achieved in the sport of cycling, the attention he has brought to the sport of cycling, what he has done for the cancer society is honourable.”

His team president Jim Ochowicz also declined to comment on the specific claims. “We as a team don’t give comments about media stories that are written that we have no information about,” he said. “I can say that we have not received any information from any authority about this issue at all. Therefore we have no comment.”

Asked how the claims had affected Hincapie, he said that the veteran rider, who is riding his final Tour, is simply trying to focus on the job at hand.

“George is here to race the Tour de France and that is what he is doing. Just like yesterday morning, he is preparing for today’s race.”

Ochowicz was asked if there could be any change to Hincapie’s participation in the Tour. “No,” he answered.

Vaughters also declined to confirm whether or not the story was true, but a statement he read out to media made it clear where the Garmin-Sharp team and its riders stood.

“Our sole focus is on Slipstream Sports. We created Slipstream because we wanted to create a team where cyclists could compete 100 percent clean,” he stated. “It is an organization built on the core values of honesty, fairness and optimism. Slipstream is built on the belief in our ability to contribute to changing the sport's future through a persistent commitment to the present.

“As we have always said, we expect that anyone in our organization who is contacted by any anti-doping or government authority will be open and honest with that authority but at this moment, we - our organization, our riders and our staff - are focused on the Tour de France. We won our first Grand Tour in May and to achieve similar success here, we need to focus on that.”

As regards talk of six month bans being negotiated and beginning in September, thus taking in most of the off-season, he denied that. “We can confirm that our Tour team is entirely focused on the Tour and media reports of suspensions are untrue.”



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