AMERICAN CYCLIST Levi Leipheimer was sacked by his team Omega Pharma last night following his admission during the investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) into shamed compatriot Lance Armstrong that he took doping products.
The 38-year-old veteran – who rode with Armstrong for US Postal in 2000 and 2001 and then again with Discovery Channel in 2007 – was already serving a six month suspension imposed by USADA backdated to September 1 this year.
He had also had his results between June 1 1999 to July 30 2006 and July 7 to July 29 2007 – the periods of time he admitted to doping as he continued with other teams such as Rabobank and Gerolsteiner – erased from the record.
While Omega-Pharma praised Leipheimer for co-operating with USADA during their investigation they added that in light of his declarations in a statement issued on October 10 they had decided to terminate his contract with immediate effect.
Leipheimer admitted to taking several banned substances including EPO and testosterone as well as indulging in blood transfusion, which are prohibited.
The USADA stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and banned him from the sport for life after the organisation claimed he orchestrated the most sophisticated doping programme ever seen.
Released last Wednesday, it detailed Armstrong’s alleged use of testosterone, human growth hormone, blood doping and EPO and included sworn statements from 26 people, including 11 former teammates. Armstrong has always maintained that he did not use banned substances during his career, but in August he chose not to contest charges put forward by the USADA.
The sport’s governing body the International Cycling Union (UCI), which has also come under heavy criticism for not uncovering the alleged conspiracy while it was going on, is yet to endorse or reject USADA’s move to ban Armstrong from cycling for life and strip him of his Tour titles, a sanction that currently only has force in the United States.