Jim Ochowicz, current general manager at BMC Racing, orchestrated a $1m race win in 1993, Lance Armstrong has claimed in testimony in an ongoing legal case.
Armstrong testified last month in a United States government case against him that Ochowicz and former team-mate Phil Anderson negotiated a deal with their rival team so that the prize would be theirs.
He won the first two of three races – the Thrift Drug Classic, the K-Mart West Virginia Classic and the CoreStates USPRO Championship – in what was called the Triple Crown in June 1993. If he won the third, he would take home a $1m bonus or around £661,200 based on exchange rates at the time.
Armstrong’s Motorola team struck a deal with rival team Coors Light, with former professional and Coors Light member, Roberto Gaggioli having already spoken of the deal in 2013.
The Italian told Corriere della Sera newspaper that he received $100,000 in cash from Armstrong. Four Mercatone Uno riders who were also in a winning move with Armstrong, told the Corriere della Sera that they were paid off too.
New Zealander Stephen Swart, who also rode for Coors Light, told a similar story under oath in the 2006 in the SCA Promotions case.
For the first time, however, Armstrong admitted that the deal took place and that Ochowicz orchestrated it with the help of Australian team-mate Phil Anderson.
The September 24, 2015, testimony acquired by VeloNews reads as follows:
Paul Scott [a member of Landis’ legal team]: Did anybody offer to pay any money on your behalf to any member of the Coors Light cycling team to allow you to win any stage of that race?
Armstrong: I believe that Jim Ochowicz, perhaps Phil Anderson, negotiated some package with Coors Light.
Scott: And how is it that you believe that Jim Ochowicz did that?
Armstrong: Because I heard that.
Scott: From whom?
Armstrong: From those guys. From Jim.
Scott: Jim Ochowicz told you he negotiated a deal?
Armstrong: Yeah. And Phil Anderson.
Scott: And Phil Anderson. For them basically to not compete at their strongest level and allow you to win the race; is that right?
Armstrong: No. Well –
Sharif Jacob [a member of Armstrong’s legal team]: Calls for speculation.
Armstrong: – I don’t know if they competed – I don’t think they threw the race, but I don’t know – I was so new to the sport, and that side of the sport was so new to me, I wasn’t very clear on how that worked.
Ochowicz directed the Motorola team through 1995, presided over USA Cycling Board of Directors and in 2007, began work with BMC Racing. He helped Cadel Evans win the Tour de France in 2011 and Tejay van Garderen finish fifth twice.
Ochowicz has denied any knowledge of the deal.
Anderson in a 2013 TV interview explained that he did not recall the deal. “I mean that’s a few years ago,” he said. “I don’t recall any meeting.”
Armstrong could lose $100m or £64.6m for cheating the US government. The government is suing him in a False Claims Act brought on by former team-mate Floyd Landis.
Landis told the government how the US Postal Service’s sponsorship of Armstrong’s team from 1996 to 2004 helped pay for drugs and doped wins.