Lance Charged Again, Banned from Triathlon
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has brought formal, and wide-ranging, doping charges against Lance Armstrong in a move that could cost him his seven Tour de France titles, according to a 15-page letter obtained by The Washington Post.
More immediately, though, the charges mean that Armstrong is banned from competing in triathlons until further notice, putting the kabosh on his plans to compete in the Ironman World Championship come October.
In the letter, dated June 12, the USADA alleges that Armstrong and five associates—including three doctors, one trainer and team manager Johan Bruyneel (who currently runs Team Radioshack-Nissan-Trek)—were involved in a huge doping conspiracy from 1998 to 2011, and that witnesses include more than 10 cyclists. The letter makes him out to be a doping kingpin, saying that those witnesses will testify that Armstrong used testosterone, EPO, blood transfusions and masking agents, and that he distributed and administered drugs to other cyclists for seven years, from 1998 to 2005.
Armstrong, for his part, hasn't given an inch on his claims of innocence. “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,” he said in a statement. “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. Any fair consideration of these allegations has and will continue to vindicate me.” That's a fair point to make.
These charges come just months after the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles ended a two-year investigation into Armstrong's alleged doping, and weeks after Armstrong very publicly announced that he was fed up with the USADA's investigation and was done talking about doping.
The USADA oversees anti-doping in Olympic sports in the U.S., and its charges can lead to suspension from competition and the revocation of awards. It can't, however, bring criminal charges. This means that Armstrong won't be going to jail anytime soon, but he will have to sit on the sidelines of Ironman competition until these charges are sorted out.
Armstrong took up triathlons last year, making high-profile appearances in Ironman 70.3 races in Houston (in which he bonked), Florida and Hawaii. Armstrong was working on qualifying for, and eventually winning, the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, HI come October. He was set to compete in the Ironman France in Nice on June 24, his first Ironman-length triathlon since he was a teenaged phenom in Texas.