USADA responds to Dutch report, says attempts to guess at witnesses can lead to errors or intimidation
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Thursday, July 5, 2012

USADA responds to Dutch report, says attempts to guess at witnesses can lead to errors or intimidation

by Shane Stokes at 10:31 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Tygart states that attempts to ‘bully or silence people who may or may not be witnesses cannot be tolerated.’

US Anti Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart has responded to the Telesport article naming what it states are five witness who have given evidence in the US Postal Service team investigation, saying that such an action allows errors to be made and intimidation to happen.

“USADA's investigation into doping in the sport of cycling continues,” he said in a statement sent to VeloNation. “No individual cases have been finalized, and any attempt to guess at whom potential witnesses might be only leads to inaccurate information being reported and subjects those named to unnecessary scrutiny, threats and intimidation.”

According to the Telesport story, 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.

Hincapie and Leipheimer both declined to comment about the case today, while Vaughters reaffirmed his team’s commitment to clean racing and said that he encouraged anyone with information to speak honestly about it.

Telesport attributed the information to an unnamed source, and claimed they will be given reduced six month sanctions, starting September. Vaughters has rejected this as being untrue.

If the five are indeed witnesses in the case, their naming puts pressure on them during what is their most important competitive period of the year.

USADA has sought to limit any identification of the witnesses and also of the evidence that they have gathered. Lance Armstrong, who is one of six who has been charged with serious doping offences, and his legal team have been pushing to try to get more information of that evidence, as well as the identities of all of the witnesses.

USADA’s review board last week declared that it had decided unanimously to proceed with the charges. It previously spoke about concerns of witness intimidation, something which Tygart echoed today.

“It is important to remember that the truth would often be suppressed without witnesses who at great cost to themselves are willing to tell the truth under oath about what they saw and experienced,” he stated. “Any attempt to circumvent the proper procedures in order to bully or silence people who may or may not be witnesses cannot be tolerated.”

The case will likely move to an arbitration hearing, which USADA states should be concluded by November.

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