Levi Leipheimer, USA Pro Cycling Challenge winner, terminated from cycling team contract

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Levi Leipheimer, winner of the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge and a stage winner in this year’s Pro Cycling Challenge, has just seen his contract with Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team terminated, effective immediately.

Leipheimer admitted in an Oct. 10 statement to his participation in the doping ring that also allegedly involved seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, and was immediately placed on non-active status by the Omega Pharma team management.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced on Oct. 10 it had evidence to bring charges against five cyclists in addition to Armstrong. Between 2000 and 2011, Leipheimer and Armstrong cycled together on the U.S. Postal Service, Astana and RadioShack cycling teams. In a statement published by The Wall Street Journal, Leipheimer admitting to having used banned substances, accepted responsibility and USADA sanctions, and said he’s been clean for more than five years.

“I hope that my admission will help to make these changes permanent,” Leipheimer said. “Until recently — or maybe even until today — when people thought about doping, they thought about a guy, by himself, using banned substances to get ahead. What people didn’t realize — what I didn’t realize until I was already committed to this career — was that doping was organized and everywhere in the peloton. Doping wasn’t the exception, it was the norm. … I regret that this was the state of affairs in the sport that we love and I chose as my career,” he said in his Oct. 10 statement. “I am sorry that I was forced to make the decisions I made. I admit that I didn’t let doping deter me from my dream. I admit that I used banned substances.”

A statement released Oct. 10 said Omega Pharma was taking the USADA decision and Leipheimer’s statement seriously, and wanted to review and consider all information, as well as speak with the rider, before making a final decision.

“The Team would like to point out that the battle against doping has always been a guiding principle of the team’s activities and work ethic,” the Wednesday statement said.

With the announcement of his termination, they added that they commend Leipheimer for his cooperation with the USADA and his contribution to cleaning cycling.