US Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart dealt with death threats and criticism from all quarters to take down cycling great and cheat Lance Armstrong last month. On Monday, France’s L’Equipe newspaper published an interview with Tygart that lifted the veil on the doping case.

The Armstrong case “resulted in three death threats” he said. His agency is used to dealing with threats, ever since the BALCO case that took down Marion Jones and other US sport stars, its Colorado HQ has been heavily fortified.

“Me and my family received one [death threat] when the Landis confessions came out,” he added. “We reacted quickly. My office is now inaccessible to visitors. The blinds are down and the cameras are on 24/7.”

The FBI dealt with the earlier threats as it is with the latest round of threats.

Tygart dealt with one of America’s biggest sporting stars and cycling’s former number one, a seven-time Tour de France winner. In February, after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) case, he re-started his work and by June 12, he had enough information to charge Armstrong, his former trainer and friend, Johan Bruyneel and four others. The agency said Armstrong possessed, trafficked and administered banned drugs and methods. It added that he doped through most of his career, including his comeback in 2009 to 2011.

Armstrong essentially admitted defeat last month by deciding not to defend himself in arbitration. The agency responded immediately on August 24 by stripping him of all his victories from August 1, 1998, including the seven Tours.

Tygart explained in the interview that taking down Armstrong is part of his job. He said that Armstrong, despite being known as a cancer-survivor and founder of Livestrong, is “just like any other citizen.”

“He is and will remain a hero to many. I love sports. Shattering dreams and legends doesn’t excite me,” Tygart continued. “But the mandate of the Agency is clear: we are there to defend clean athletes and that’s what we do.”

Armstrong avoided a large-scale public lashing by foregoing arbitration. Tygart said, however, that he could have saved his Tour titles earlier on. They spoke on the telephone twice.

“I offered him a solution, to co-operate … But the next day he attacked us in court to challenge the constitutionality of our investigation!”

Armstrong may yet be heard in public, where much of the agency’s evidence could be exposed. Bruyneel elected to face an arbitration panel, which could see Armstrong called to testify as a witness.

“I don’t know what [Bruyneel] hopes for, he has everything to lose,” Tygart added. “The hearing will be public. Lance Armstrong also may be called to testify, under oath. Like all the others. In this game there is no safety net. If he lies under oath, it’s serious.”

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) said on Saturday that it will likely uphold the Armstrong decision. “The UCI is ready to take its responsibly, unless the decision gives us serious reason to do otherwise,” president, Pat McQuaid said. “We have no intention to [appeal].”

The UCI will be able to act soon. Tygart said in the interview that the international federation will have the legal files by the end of the month, in other words, by this Sunday.

Related links

USADA strips Armstrong of seven Tour titles

Lance Armstrong to be stripped of his seven Tour titles

Judge dismisses Armstrong lawsuit against USADA

  • old wheeler

    All these writers have only what they have read in the press or seen on TV. We actually KNOW nothing, which is why there is doubt over these issues. It is not whether you believe Armstrong or not, but but whether you believe and trust the journalists and their sources.
    Some of the evidence seems to be from disgruntled team mates or competitors, so to my mind is worth even less than the journalists.
    There is an apology for Merckx in that he was at the time when ‘everybody doped’ . Armstrong was at the time when the change was taking place and the sport is now much cleaner (we are told) .
    He is taking the stick when his predecessors didn’t, and at least he was talking the talk, which has helped to improve the situation.
    I will neither condemn nor applaud until I see believable evidence honestly reported.

  • izzi green

    Can someone ask the UK anti-doping people if they follow the same procedures as USADA? Worrying if they do.

  • Mike

    @John. I am well aware of what riders did in the dim and distant past. i.e 1960s and 70s. Amphetamine use was rife, controls and public perception were not the same as today. Eddie did not pretend to be anything he was not, unlike Mr Armstrong who has spent much of his cycling life in front of a camera and microphone telling everyone how splendid he is and how we should all be in awe of this superhuman “cancer survivor”. Also when asked all he ever said was “I have never tested positive”. Not enough anymore is it.

    I am disappointed in Eddie because rather than making a public stand in support of a drug cheat he could easily have stayed quiet. Why stand up for someone who has so blatantly cheated the public?

  • izzi green

    Merckx tested positive three times: in ’69, ’73, and 77. His Wiki entry gives the details.

  • Mark Whitmarsh

    John: “Remember too that Lance Armstrong would have only been given five days (count them) to review the case against him before he could mount any defence. All at his own cost.”

    All at his own cost? Well obviously! Who else is going to pay for it?

    I do agree with you though that it seems a bit strange they can’t just hand over the file as it stands. Perhaps they also have to prepare a document explaining to the UCI how they came to their decision based on the evidence they have not just hand over the evidence.

    Pat McQuaid’s quote “The UCI is ready to take its responsibly, unless the decision gives us serious reason to do otherwise,” possibly gives a clue here.

  • John

    Travis Tygart should ask himself why it’s taken so long for USADA to figure out how to work the photocopier. Is there a problem that he can’t take the document that he’s used to convict Lance Armstrong that he can’t share with the UCI or WADA? If the actions of USADA didn’t stink beforehand, they sure do now.

    It seems that USADA have decided to add more to the file, but that’s not then the document and reasons why they’ve tried to ban Lance Armstrong. They must give copies of the originals immediately to the UCI and WADA; anything more is unfair and unjust. Think about it – six weeks just to figure how to use the photocopier!

    Remember too that Lance Armstrong would have only been given five days (count them) to review the case against him before he could mount any defence. All at his own cost.

  • John

    @ Mike. Eddie Merckx has presumably stood up for Lance because I am pretty sure he himself has admitted that he and many of his contemporaries were on drugs in their day. Probably too late to strip him of his titles, but surely the likes of the late Marco Pantani and Bjarne Riis should lose their titles. And who knows how many others? Let’s start with a whole clean slate . . .

  • Mike

    A death threat for outing drug cheat Marrion Jones? What is wrong with people?

    These so called heros only attained there sporting peaks by cheating. I would have thought any right minded sports fan would be dissapointed and dissalusioned with there there former hero’s, rather than being upset with an agency that is trying to keep our sports clean.

    Eddie Merckx was a hero of mine, before he stood up for Lance Armstrong when his past was made public. Standing shoulder to shoulder with a drug cheat Is not the action of a sporting legend, as far as I am concerned.

  • izzi green

    Judging from the partisan comments here and elsewhere I can only ask: just three? What happened, were the lines down.

  • SirVelo

    Death threats from whom one wonders?

  • Max

    What a shocking article, as blatantly anti-Armstrong as is USADA. Factually inaccurate as well, as only the UCI can strip riders of their titles.