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By 1995, according to former teammates, Lance desperately wanted to dance. So he shrewdly began to broadcast on two frequencies—one within the sport and another to the millions back home who would become deeply invested in the notion of an American winning clean after triumphing over cancer. Within the guild, Armstrong was a but-of-courser to the bone, bullying riders who spoke out against doping. At the same time he was careful to cover his how-could-you flank. If pro cycling is known to the typical Stateside sports fan at all, it's through one event, which to casual followers exists only to supply over-the-top movies of the week like Texan Dominates Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys After Cancer Racks Body. "Once it's entertainment," says U.S. cyclist Andy Hampsten, who retired rather than compete after EPO hit the sport, "do we really want to know that cyclists are on drugs? It would ruin people's fun."
Jeff Novitzky, the investigator with the Food and Drug Administration who built the doping cases against Barry Bonds and Marion Jones, heard a variation on that line—Do we really want to know?—after he launched a federal probe into Armstrong and the U.S. Postal Service team in 2010. The U.S. attorney's office in Southern California chose not to pursue a criminal case against the Texan last February, leaving USADA and its executive director, Travis Tygart, to begin its doping investigation. Tygart invited witnesses to reiterate under oath what they had already told the Feds. After years of keeping secrets, and of what the USADA report calls significant pressure and attacks from the Armstrong camp, the truth-telling came as catharsis. According to a source familiar with the government probe, the investigators' challenge had been less to get Postal riders to talk than to get them to stop crying so they could talk.
Armstrong is silent now, but in the past he has talked plenty. What follows are his own words, with annotations based on SI's reporting, the USADA findings and other publicly available sources. The Texan has chosen not to face the evidence. But we can if we want, if we dare.
As I passed into unconsciousness, my doctors controlled my future. They controlled my ability to sleep, and to reawaken. For that period of time, they were the ultimate beings. My doctors were my Gods.
—It's Not About the Bike, Armstrong's 2000 memoir, on his cancer treatment in 1996
Doctors and drugs helped save Armstrong's life. Doctors and drugs helped him win seven Tours. While he rode under two separate team physicians for the Postal team, del Moral and Celaya, Ferrari remained the one medical constant.
Armstrong's relationship with Ferrari, which began in 1995, became widely public in 2001 with a report by David Walsh in The Sunday Times of London. Until then Armstrong had concealed it, even from some on his own team. After Walsh's report, Armstrong defended the connection, even as Ferrari stood trial in Italy on charges of directing cyclists' doping programs.
In the meantime Armstrong inflated the role of Chris Carmichael, the coach who dated back to his predoping days. But in his book, The Secret Race, Hamilton quotes Vaughters saying, "In two years, I never heard Lance refer to Chris one time." Adds Landis, "Carmichael was a beard."
Michele Ferrari ... was a friend and I went to him for occasional advice on training.... He wasn't one of my major advisers.
—Every Second Counts, Armstrong's 2003 memoir