George Hincapie has reportedly become the latest of Lance Armstrong’s former team mates to tell federal authorities in America that he saw the seven-time Tour winner take performance enhancing drugs.
If true, the allegations are the most damning yet for Armstrong and could provide the watershed moment in this ongoing saga.
Hincapie used his Twitter feed to deny having spoken to 60 Minutes (the CBS Network program that made the claims) but hasn’t denied the testimony. He also Tweeted, “As I’ve said in the past, I continue to be disappointed that people are talking about the past in cycling instead of the future.”
The allegations come just days after another former team mate, Tyler Hamilton admitted in an interview with 60 Minutes that he saw Armstrong take EPO . Hamilton has appeared in front of a Grand Jury in the same Food and Drug Administration (FDA) case being lead by Jeff Novitsky.
Armstrong and his Lawyer Mark Fabiani were quick to dismiss Hamilton, saying he is discredited and out to promote a forthcoming book, but they may find it more difficult in light of Hincapie’s alleged confessions.
Hincapie was ‘like a brother’ according to Armstrong, and the BMC rider, who has now seemingly admitted doping during his career, has never been discredited by a positive test or subsequent lies.
Hincapie, a stalwart of the American pro cycling scene for over a decade, is currently riding the Tour of California where he is lying in 16th position.
The pair join an ever growing list of former team mates to admit to widespread doping on the US Postal and Discovery Channel teams run by Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel, but according to the New York Times the charges facing Armstrong could be far more serious.
They list fraud, corruption, drug trafficking and money laundering as possible charges against Armstrong whose defence looks weaker and weaker by the day.
Initially his only tactic was to discredit those who alleged any wrong doing or doping on his part. More recently he and those around him have suggested that the whole investigation is a waste of taxpayers money.
Another former US Postal team mate Jonathan Vaughters, the highly respected team boss of Garmin-Cervelo and head of the AIGCP, confirmed once again on his Twitter feed that he would tell the truth to any investigation, if questioned.
Lance Armstrong has always denied doping and cites the 500 doping tests that all returned negative results during his career. Samples of his urine from the 1999 Tour de Frane tested positive for EPO but the testing was part of a retroactive study done annonymously and with a prerequisite that sanctions would not be implemented.