The Slatest

Lance Armstrong’s Agent, Lawyer Helped Write 2006 Doping Report That Exonerated Him

Graffiti in Los Angeles.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty

In 2013, Lance Armstrong confessed to having taken performance-enhancing drugs throughout his cycling career. Given the magnitude and duration of the cheating that he copped to, it seemed amazing that he’d been able to get away clean for so long. How does someone suppress public awareness of such an elaborate scheme? One answer comes via a new report from a group called the Cycling Independent Reform Commission, or CIRC, which was formed to investigate cycling’s worldwide governing body, the International Cycling Union, or UCI. CIRC says that the UCI was so complicit in Armstrong’s shenanigans that when he was credibly accused of doping by the French newspaper L’Equipe in 2005, UCI’s investigative response was actually co-written by his lawyer and agent. From USA Today:

To investigate [L’Equipe’s] claims, the UCI hired a Dutch lawyer, Emile Vrijman, who produced a report that Vrijman said exonerated Armstrong. Vrijman’s report instead cast blame on the World Anti-Doping Agency and the lab that did the tests.

Armstrong then used the Vrijman report to beat back his critics and prop up the myth that he was a clean athlete who overcame cancer to win the Tour de France seven straight times through sheer hard work and will power.

But this “Vjirman report,” CIRC’s investigation says, was so biased toward Armstrong that it was actually drafted in part by two people who worked for him—agent Bill Stapleton and lawyer Mark Levinstein. The CIRC report is based in part on new testimony by Armstrong himself; you can read more about it here.

To put this level of corruption in perspective, imagine if top executives at the NFL collaborated with team officials to perpetrate a dishonest description of a star player’s involvement in a domestic violence incident—a description that was directly contradicted by video evidence that NFL executives then lied about having tried to obtain.