Lance Armstrong faces sanction from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and has been banned from triathlon competition until the resolution of the investigation. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that USADA has sent the seven-time Tour de France champion and others a 15-page letter outlining the allegations that stem from his run with the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery team between 1998 and 2005, as well as his comeback in 2009-2010.
According to the Post, the action was outlined in a letter sent to Armstrong and several others and could cost the Texan his Tour titles. The Post reported that in the letter, USADA alleged it had collected blood samples from Armstrong in 2009 and 2010 that were “fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions.”
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Armstrong called the allegations baseless and accused USADA of holding a vendetta.
“I have been notified that USADA, an organization largely funded by taxpayer dollars but governed only by self-written rules, intends to again dredge up discredited allegations dating back more than 16 years to prevent me from competing as a triathlete and try and strip me of the seven Tour de France victories I earned. These are the very same charges and the same witnesses that the Justice Department chose not to pursue after a two-year investigation. These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity. Although USADA alleges a wide-ranging conspiracy extended over more than 16 years, I am the only athlete it has chosen to charge. USADA’s malice, its methods, its star-chamber practices, and its decision to punish first and adjudicate later all are at odds with our ideals of fairness and fair play.
“I have never doped, and, unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one. That USADA ignores this fundamental distinction and charges me instead of the admitted dopers says far more about USADA, its lack of fairness and this vendetta than it does about my guilt or innocence.”
USADA CEO Travis Tygart said that the agency’s case was supported by evidence, but that until the process was complete, those involved were presumed innocent.
“We do not choose whether or not we do our job based on outside pressures, intimidation or for any reason other than the evidence,” Tygart said. “Our duty on behalf of clean athletes and those that value the integrity of sport is to fairly and thoroughly evaluate all the evidence available and when there is credible evidence of doping, take action under the established rules.
“As in every USADA case, all named individuals are presumed innocent of the allegations unless and until proven otherwise through the established legal process.”
In February, federal prosecutors dropped an investigation into Armstrong and other cyclists without bringing criminal charges. At the time USADA said it continued to investigate allegations of doping in cycling and hoped to have access to the information gathered in the criminal probe.
“Unlike the U.S. Attorney, USADA’s job is to protect clean sport rather than enforce specific criminal laws,” Tygart said in February.”Our investigation into doping in the sport of cycling is continuing and we look forward to obtaining the information developed during the federal investigation.”
According to the Post, USADA alleges that Armstrong is among six individuals at the center of the investigation. Others reportedly named in the letter include RadioShack-Nissan manager Johan Bruyneel, doctors Michele Ferrari, Pedro Celaya and Luis Garcia del Moral, and trainer Jose Pepi Marti.
Bruyneel was not immediately available for comment.
A UCI spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday that cycling’s governing body had learned of allegations against “a number of rider support personnel and a rider.” This appears to indicate that Armstrong is the only current athlete facing sanction.
“The UCI is not aware of the information that is available to USADA on the persons concerned and has not been involved in the proceedings opened by USADA,” read the statement.
“The UCI will follow the case to the extent it will be informed and has noted that the persons concerned have been invited to send submittals on the allegations that are made against them.”
World Triathlon Corporation reached a deal with Armstrong earlier this year stipulating that Armstrong would take part in six WTC events in his bid to win the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii on October 13. WTC issued a statement at 4:56 p.m. ET suspending Armstrong from competition.
“WTC has been notified that USADA has initiated its Anti-Doping Review Board Process against Lance Armstrong to determine if there is sufficient evidence of doping during his cycling career to bring forward charges of a non-analytical nature. Our rules, as stated in the WTC Professional Athlete Agreement and Waiver, dictate an athlete is ineligible to compete during an open investigation. Armstrong is therefore suspended from competing in WTC-owned and licensed races pending further review.”
Editor’s Note: Keep your browser pointed to VeloNews.com for more on this developing story. Agence France Presse contributed to this report.