George Hincapie, the “Loyal Lieutenant” who helped Lance Armstrong win seven Tour de France titles, has remarked that it is unfair to blame Armstrong for the entrenched doping culture of cycling.
Hincapie remarked Armstrong and his former teammates were unfairly targeted and many other pro cycling teams also systematically doped and employed even more sophisticated methods than their squads. He remarked they made it look like we were the only team and added he mentioned many times to Travis Tygart and he knew there were other teams doing this stuff. The American retired road bicycle racer, who competed as a professional between 1994 and 2012 added that there were a lot of other teams we felt had even more aggressive programs than we did, and that never came out. George Hincapie said it would be a mistake, and it would be disrespectful to the sport, to leave seven years empty. It is surely not to the amazement of anyone that no other cyclist has ever won seven consecutive Tour de France despite the widespread doping culture in professional cycling for decades.
In his new book, "The Loyal Lieutenant: Leading Out Lance and Pushing Through the Pain", Hincapie said Lance understands he did a lot of wrong things and added it is not right to blame him for 100 years of doping. One of the most famous faces in American cycling, Hincapie joined Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, Frankie Andreu, and Jonathan Vaughters to bring down Lance Armstrong and the United States Postal Service team with assistance from the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
Hincapie admitted to doping and said it became clear to him during early in his professional career that, given the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete at the highest level without them. Hincapie remarked he deeply regret that choice and sincerely apologize to his family, teammates, and fans. Hincapie accepted a six-month ban by the United States Anti-Doping Agency from September 1, 2012, ending on March 1, 2013, along with a stripping of all race results between May 31, 2004, and July 31, 2006. After his statement, Lance Armstrong admitted to using banned performance enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids and EPO during an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January 2013.
Nicknamed “Big George,” Hincapie never tested positive for performance enhancing drugs and retired from pro racing after a 19-year professional career. He became the first American to win the semi-Classic Gent-Wevelgem and established the record for the most participations in the Tour de France at 17 besides participating in five consecutive Olympic Games. The quintessential teammate, Hincapie was entrusted with the task of keeping Lance Armstrong out of trouble during the infamously frenetic and dangerous early stages. In a 2005 story in ESPN The Magazine, Hincapie admitted there is definitely a special relationship that he have with Lance and added he couldn’t imagine racing against him. In his second book, Every Second Counts, Armstrong said Hincapie was “like a brother to me.”