Lance Armstrong finally admitted his use of performance-enhancing drugs in January after 11 former teammates testified to federal investigators and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Among them were George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer.
Because they also admitted to doping, they were banned from the sport for six months last September. Hincapie’s two stage wins in the first Amgen Tour of California were expunged from his record. Hincapie announced his retirement while accepting the penalties. Leipheimer’s team, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, fired him after he confessed to doping during the years preceding his Tour of California victories. When his suspension ended March 1, the three-time winner found himself without a team.
The tour’s owner, AEG, has instituted strict doping protocols, including pre-race testing and tests conducted at the end of each stage on the stage winner, overall leader, and at least two randomly selected riders. All samples will be tested for the drug EPO, which, incidentally, is made by Amgen.