Lance Armstrong: Five former team-mates banned

Levi Leipheimer
Levi Leipheimer

Five of Lance Armstrong's former team-mates have received six-month doping bans from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada).

Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie, Tom Danielson, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie all received reduced sentences because they gave evidence against Armstrong to Usada.

Leipheimer has been provisionally suspended by his Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling team.

Armstrong has been banned for life.

The 41-year-old, who has always denied doping but chose not to fight the charges filed against him, has been labelled a "serial" cheat by Usada and is accused of leading "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

Armstrong has also been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by Usada, whose report is now being looked at by the International Cycling Union, the sport's world governing body.

Because of their testimonies to Usada, Leipheimer, Hincapie, Danielson, Vande Velde and Zabriskie avoided a two-year ban but will remain out of action until the end of February 2013. The riders all withdrew from the London Olympics in August as part of their deal with Usada.

Hincapie, 39, retired from the sport in August, but Danielson, Vande Velde and David Zabriskie are still active with Garmin-Sharp - the team of Briton David Millar.

Armstrong's former Discovery Channel team-mate Roger Hammond believes the penalties are too lenient.

"I can't understand why these riders are only being given a six-month winter ban," said retired Brit Hammond, who rode with Armstrong in 2005.

"Usada talk about creating a legacy and the whole point of this investigation was to create a legacy for the sport. What sort of legacy is being created now?

"To me it says if you cheat and lie about it for several years, and then drop somebody else in it, you'll be alright. They need to be given the same ban as Lance. They cheated, they took that risk."

BBC Radio 5 live Sport will look at the Lance Armstrong saga in a special programme on Monday at 19:00 BST. "Peddlers: Cycling's Dirty Truth" includes interviews with Armstrong's former team-mate Tyler Hamilton, former Wada head Dick Pound, and British cyclist David Millar who was banned for two years after admitting taking performance enhancing drugs.

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