The financier Thomas Weisel recently boxed up the bright-yellow cycling jerseys that lined an entire wall of his office, which overlooks San Francisco's harbor. They were gifts from Lance Armstrong, a longtime friend whom Mr. Weisel had bankrolled through seven Tour de France wins.
The evidence that Mr. Armstrong repeatedly used performance-enhancing drugs, which culminated in a televised confession with Oprah Winfrey on Thursday night, has destroyed his career, and now threatens to blacken the reputation of Mr. Weisel.
Mr. Weisel, 71, the founder of the cycling team that is at the center of the sport's biggest doping scandal, is accused of wrongdoing in a federal whistle-blower suit that was leaked publicly this week. The suit, filed by Floyd Landis, a former teammate of Mr. Armstrong's who has admitted to doping, claims that Mr. Weisel and other team officials "engaged in a systematic program of doping." Mr. Weisel has also been linked to a $500,000 payment aimed at silencing a drug test Mr. Armstrong purportedly failed in the late 1990s.
Despite several years of accusations of rampant doping on the team, Mr. Weisel, in his first public comments on the matter, said those accusations were false.
"I did not know until very recently that Lance Armstrong had engaged in doping while riding for the team," he said. "Any allegation that I was aware of or condoned or supported doping by any team rider is false."
Mr. Weisel said the credibility of the people interviewed in an October report by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which described Mr. Armstrong's doping activities, persuaded him that the cyclist had used performance-enhancing drugs. He said he had heard rumors of drug abuse, but dismissed them because the cyclists were passing the drug tests. He never personally saw an instance of doping on the team, he said.