Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong had ruled his team with an iron grip, according to his own biographers, who exposes the lies, doping and bullying behind the sport in a new book.
In the book titled "The Secret Race: Inside The Hidden World Of The Tour de France," written by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle, the latter likened the security surrounding the disgraced seven-time Tour de France champion to that of the White House or a space shuttle launch.
Coyle said that the tour bus was strictly off-limits to anyone other than Armstrong and his team-mates, many of whom have since admitted to doping.
Evidence from one of Armstrong's fellow riders, Floyd Landis, now confirms a mass blood transfusion involving the entire team took place on the bus on a remote mountain road, after the driver pretended the vehicle had broken down, The Sun reports.
According to the report, the author said that beneath the tight security was a closed-off world of "secret phones, secret doctors, bags of blood in the fridge and substances being transported by private jet," where athletes had blood transfusions every three weeks in the run-up to the Tour.
"It was strange in the training camp. I was allowed aboard the bus once to look around briefly then quickly escorted off, as if I was visiting the White House. They had a layer of unsmiling tough guys who would cordon off the area around it at all times," Coyle said.
Although Coyle had his misgivings, the American journalist says he could never have predicted the scale of the damning allegations made by the US Anti-Doping Agency against Armstrong.
He said: "This massive, massive conspiracy was just beneath the surface. But it was the size and intensity of the world that kept it a secret for so long." (ANI)