Armstrong paid team $100K bribe to throw race, cyclist says

Lance Armstrong paid an Italian team $100,000 to throw a 1993 race in Philadelphia, a former member of the team says in a report that suggests the disgraced cyclist was cheating even before he began doping.

Roberto Gaggioli told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that Armstrong approached him before the race, which offered a bonus to an American winner, and said the Italian’s team had received a bribe to ride slow and let the 22-year-old Armstrong win.

“I realized everything was already decided,” Gaggioli told the paper. “We earned more in a day than our comrades earned in three weeks at the Giro d’Italia,” Italy’s most prestiguous race.

Sitting with Oprah Winfrey this past January, Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France seven times, titles that have since been revoked.  

Suspicions about Armstrong’s drug use began to surface in 2005, after former Armstrong teammate Frankie Andreu and his wife, Betsy, testified in a lawsuit about a drug confession they heard Armstrong make while hospitalized in 1996 during his bout with cancer. (Armstrong later did his best to ostracize Frankie Andreu from the cycling world.)

”We assumed Lance started using after cancer and then started winning the Tour de France, but we know he started using drugs back in 1993,” filmmaker Alex Gibney, who directed "The Armstrong Lie", told the Associated Press.

Armstrong said in an October article in Velo News he will ”pay a heavy price” for what he’s done. But moving forward, he said, ”Folks should expect the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

And what about the speculation that Armstrong was in cahoots with the sanctioning body Union Cycliste Internationale, and the talk about doctored race times?

”There is an element that Lance is hinting at but hasn’t come clean on, which is how the mechanism of the sport worked to keep his secret for so long,” Gibney said. ”He worked hand in glove with the UCI and sponsors. Everybody was getting paid.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.