Retired Italian cyclist Roberto Gaggioli told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that Lance Armstrong bribed him to lose a race in 1993 by giving him $100,000 in an Italian cake box.
‘It was a young American colleague,’ Gaggioli, who is now 51, was quoted as saying. ‘He offered me a panettone (a traditional Italian Christmas cake) as a present and wished me a merry Christmas. In the box there were $100,000 in small bills. That colleague was Lance Armstrong.’
It was important for the 22-year-old Armstrong to win the Thrift Drug Triple Crown with races in Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Philadelphia. If he won, he would be the US champion and win $1 million. It was, at the time, the biggest prize in cycling history. Armstrong told Gaggioli his Coors Light team also agreed to the bribe. Gaggioli’s New Zealand teammate Stephen Swart testified that Armstrong bribed him with $50,000 during the second race.
‘Lance approached me before the start [in Philadelphia]. He said that my team, Coors Light, was in agreement and spoke to me about the compensation: $100,000,’ said Gaggioli.
‘Two laps from the end, I was in a breakaway with Lance, Bobby Julich and some Italian riders from the Mercatone team. When Lance made a sign, I turned away as if not to see that he had escaped. He broke away to win on his own.’
In January, Armstrong finally came clean about doping. He was immediately stripped of his historic seven Tour de France titles.