By Philip Hersh, Tribune reporter
5:38 PM EDT, October 10, 2012
Cyclist Christian Vande Velde of Lemont is among the 11 former Lance Armstrong teammates who admitted to doping during testimony under oath in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation of Armstrong.
Vande Velde said in an affidavit he had doped from 1999 through 2005, regularly using testosterone and the blood booster erythropoietin (EPO), both banned substances. He also said he had received injections of human growth hormone (hGH), another banned substance, and of a banned corticosteroid.
He received a ban of six months, retroactive to Sept. 1. The ban was reduced from a minimum of two years because he cooperated with the investigation.
The 11 names were revealed Wednesday, as USADA provided details about how it reached the conclusion that has stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and banned him for life from events governed by the World Anti-Doping Code.
"I am deeply sorry for the decisions I made in the past," Vande Velde said in a statement released by his current team, Slipstream Sports.
Two of its other riders, Tom Danielson and David Zabriskie, also confessed to doping in the team's statement.
Vande Velde, 36, rode with Armstrong’s U.S. Postal team during all of his first Tour victory in 1999. He started the 2001 Tour for the Postal team but withdrew after crashing into a post during the seventh stage.
"As a young pro rider I competed drug free, not winning but holding my own and achieving decent results," Vande Velde said in the statement. " Then, one day, I was presented with a choice that to me, at the time, seemed like the only way to continue to follow my dream at the highest level of the sport. I gave in and crossed the line, a decision that I deeply regret.
"I was wrong to think I didn’t have a choice – the fact is that I did, and I chose wrong. I won races before doping and after doping. Ironically, I never won while doping, I was more or less just treading water. This does not make it ok. I saw the line and I crossed it, myself."
In its Wednesday statement, USADA said, “It took tremendous courage for the riders on the USPS Team and others to come forward and speak truthfully. It is not easy to admit your mistakes and accept your punishment.”
Vande Velde left US Postal after the 2003 season. He went on to complete the Tour de France seven more times, taking fourth place in 2008 and eighth in 2009.
He testified to first-hand knowledge of widespread doping by several USPS riders and suspicions Armstrong was one of them. Like Armstrong and most of the others, Vande Velde never had a confirmed positive test.
Vande Velde said he had stopped doping well before joining Slipstream in 2008, when the team entered the pro ranks with a guiding principle of trying to assure clean competition. Through a Slipstream spokesperson, Vande Velde said he had stopped doping in 2006.
"I know that forgiveness is a lot to ask for," he said.
(For the affidavit of Vande Velde's testimony to USADA and the USADA documentation of its case against Armstrong, go to "Related Items.")
In the affidavit, Vande Velde said he first knowingly violated anti-doping rules by taking testosterone at the 1999 Tour de France and began taking EPO (erythropoietin) at the end of 2000, under a doping program devised by Italian doctor Michele Ferrari. Ferrari worked with Armstrong for several years.
Vande Velde testified Ferrari also showed him how to use testosterone patches.
He described a meeting with Armstrong and Ferrari after the 2002 Tour de France in which Armstrong "told me if I wanted to continue to ride for the Postal Service team I would have to use what Dr. Ferrari had been telling me to use."
Two of the other teammates who testified in the Armstrong probe, George Hincapie and Michael Barry, both admitted past doping but said they had been clean beginning with the 2006 season.
Vande Velde's penalties also included disqualification of all his results from June 2004, through April, 2006, and an agreement not to accept a spot on the 2012 Olympic team.
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