"voluminous USADA report - which included testimony from 11 former teammates "-
Too much heat from his former team mates. IMHO Many people have been covering for a lot of years, I think one way he stayed undetected for so long was the new methods, drugs and doctors involved. He and others took doping to a new level, with blood transfusions and other inventive techniques. These guys were not just taking a pill or injections. Two of the most popular methods..
EPO (erythropoietin): EPO is a chemical form of blood doping that first came about in the late 1980s allowing aerobic potential to be increased by increasing the blood’s oxygen transfer capacity. Its misuse in the professional ranks arrived soon after it was used on the patients it was designed for. EPO artificially boosted the body’s red blood cell count . Boosting an athlete’s red blood cell count (and thus the efficiency with which oxygen is transported around the body) in order to improve performance, is done by injecting erythropoietin – a hormone produced by the kidneys that stimulates production of red blood cells – and it gives a massive advantage in performance. It was an undectable until a test became available in 2000. The use and abuse of EPO was rampant in professional cycling, according to riders who competed at the time. This is underlined by the amount of cyclists caught using the substance. The greater the amount of red blood cells available, the more oxygen can be carried from the lungs to the muscles. EPO is typically taken prior to a big training block – out of competition – to ensure that by the time of the competition all traces of the synthetic EPO will have disappeared. It enables the doper to train harder and longer than he would be able to “naturally”. Cheaters can also “micro dope” by staying under the fail limit, as an aid to performance on the event.
The obvious danger with EPO is that the body’s capacity to produce red blood cells naturally is compromised, with the athlete ultimately having to rely on injections of the hormone ( for the rest of his life ) .In May 2007, the T-Mobile cycling team suspended two doctors who allegedly supplied EPO to former Tour de France winners Bjarne Riis, Jan Ullrich and other riders on the team (then known as Team Telekom) between 1992 and 1996, more than a decade earlier.
Though EPO is now a prohibited substance in professional cycling, and riders are regularly tested for its presence in their bodies, its use is still a problem. CERA is the most efficient form of the Drug; the ‘third generation’ EPO was only detectable in drug testing from MAY 2008.
Blood Doping: Blood doping is when an athlete illicitly boosts the number of red blood cells (RBCs) in his or her body in order to enhance athletic performance. An athlete has healthy blood ‘removed’ during periods when the body is at its freshest (e.g after a period of rest), which blood is stored and transfused ‘back’ into the rider when needed.
The benefit of a transfusion of half a litre of blood can provide the athlete with an additional half litre of oxygen to muscles per minute, at the same time increasing the capacity of the muscles to use oxygen by up to five percent. Autologous blood transfusion (transfusion of your own blood) is not detectable and is perhaps not technically “doping”, but remains a banned technique affording a massive boost to an athlete over fatigued competition.
Poorly stored blood leads to serious illness and blood clots, and by pushing “thick blood” with high red cell count through the body, massive strain is put on the heart. The main function of red blood cells is to carry oxygen to the muscles, meaning a higher RBC count can dramatically improve an athlete’s performance by kicking up their aerobic capacity and stamina.
Blood doping in the traditional sense involves harvesting red blood cells either from the athlete or compatible donor and then saving them until needed. Red blood cells can be easily frozen and later thawed for use without significant loss of their oxygen-carrying properties. Just prior to a critical competition, these harvested red blood cells are then reinjected into the athlete’s circulatory system.
The major blood doping case in professional cycling is known as Operación Puerto, the case name given by Spanish police. The investigation broke in May 2006 when Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes was accused of helping 200 professional athletes from a number of sports engage in blood doping to enhance their performance. Among these athletes were some of the best known cyclists in the world, including several of the top finishers at the most recent Olympic Games and Tours de France.
As of May 2007, fifteen cyclists whose names surfaced in the Operación Puerto investigation have been acquitted, while three riders — Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, and Michele Scarponi — have either admitted doping or been seemingly convicted by substantial evidence linking them to the practice.