WASHINGTON - American cyclist George Hincapie admitted to taking banned performance enhancing substances on Wednesday and apologized to teammates and fans while claiming he has been a clean rider since 2006.
Hincapie's confession came as the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) revealed all of its evidence in the investigation of Lance Armstrong, including testimony from Hincapie and 10 other former Armstrong teammates.
Hincapie was a US Postal Service teammate of Armstrong when the US cycling legend won seven Tour de France titles in a row from 1999 through 2005.
USADA stripped Armstrong of those crowns and imposed a life ban upon him in August. USADA sent a report on its findings to the International Cycling Union (UCI) on Wednesday. The UCI could appeal the ban and punishment of Armstrong to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Hincapie posted a link to his statement on his website and Twitter account as USADA revealed the full extent of its probe.
"Because of my love for the sport, the contributions I feel I have made to it, and the amount the sport of cycling has given to me over the years, it is extremely difficult today to acknowledge that during a part of my career I used banned substances," Hincapie wrote.
"Early in my professional career, it became clear to me that, given the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete at the highest level without them.
"I deeply regret that choice and sincerely apologize to my family, teammates and fans.
"Quietly, and in the way I know best, I have been trying to rectify that decision.
"I have competed clean and have not used any performance enhancing drugs or processes for the past six years. Since 2006, I have been working hard within the sport of cycling to rid it of banned substances.
"During this time, I continued to successfully compete at the highest level of cycling while mentoring young professional riders on the right choices to make to ensure that the culture of cycling had changed."
Hincapie said that he was approached by federal investigators two years ago and more recently by USADA to talk about things that he personally experienced.
"I would have been much more comfortable talking only about myself, but understood that I was obligated to tell the truth about everything I knew. So that is what I did," Hincapie said.
Other former Armstrong teammates who testified include Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.
Hincapie, a five-time Olympian who has raced professionally for 19 seasons, was not on the US 2012 Olympic squad. Nor were the other witnesses USADA cited in its Armstrong investigation.
Hincapie tried to bolster cycling's already doping-stained reputation.
"Cycling has made remarkable gains over the past several years and can serve as a good example for other sports," he said.
"Thankfully, the use of performance enhancing drugs is no longer embedded in the culture of our sport and younger riders are not faced with the same choice we had.
"I am proud to be part of the cycling community, and believe we continue to make positive changes to our sport."
USADA chief executive Travis T. Tygart praised Hincapie and other admitted dope cheats who came forward to give evidence against Armstrong.
"The riders who participated in the USPS Team doping conspiracy and truthfully assisted have been courageous in making the choice to stop perpetuating the sporting fraud, and they have suffered greatly," he said.
"In addition to the public revelations, the active riders have been suspended and disqualified appropriately in line with the rules.
"In some part, it would have been easier for them if it all would just go away.
"However, they love the sport, and they want to help young athletes have hope that they are not put in the position they were -- to face the reality that in order to climb to the heights of their sport they had to sink to the depths of dangerous cheating.
"I have personally talked with and heard these athletes' stories and firmly believe that, collectively, these athletes, if forgiven and embraced, have a chance to leave a legacy far greater for the good of the sport than anything they ever did on a bike."
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