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Ex-Armstrong Teammates Get Six-Month Bans After Drug Testimony

Five American cyclists who testified against Lance Armstrong to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency will receive six-month suspensions from the sport as a result of their own admissions of drug use.

George Hincapie, Tom Danielson, Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie each acknowledged doping while a teammate of Armstrong’s and accepted the six-month suspensions as part of USADA’s investigation into the 41-year-old Texan’s use of banned substances, which it released yesterday.

USA Cycling, the governing body for the sport in America, said today in a statement that it would enforce the suspensions retroactive to Sept. 1, and was reviewing their possible impact on results. Other U.S. riders who testified against Armstrong have left the sport.

“I would like to personally acknowledge the extraordinary courage of these riders who placed their careers on the line in order to come forward with their experiences of past doping practices,” USA Cycling President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Johnson said in the statement. “While this is an extremely difficult time for the sport, I believe that riders of today understand that doping is intolerable, that it will be discovered, and that a decision to engage in doping in any form is senseless.”

USADA yesterday released its doping case against Armstrong, which presents the evidence it used two months ago to strip him of his record seven Tour de France titles and ban him for life from Olympic-related sports.

Documents released with the report include testimony from former teammates and acquaintances, and e-mails that claim Armstrong used banned substances, administered them to teammates, tried to procure false affidavits and attempted to prevent witnesses from testifying.

Armstrong, who survived testicular cancer that spread to his lungs and brain before winning his first Tour de France in 1999, has repeatedly denied doping, saying he has never failed a drug test.

Hincapie was Armstrong’s teammate for each of his seven consecutive Tour de France victories through 2005. The other four were teammates of Armstrong’s at various points throughout his career.

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