By Jen Benepe, June 14, 2012
The allegations were sent to Mr. Armstrong on June 13 by the U.S. agency in charge of regulating doping in sports, this time including the champion and five other people, three doctors, and two officials all of whom worked for the U.S. Postal Team according to a press statement.
The statement from Tavis C. Tygart said “USADA only initiates matters supported by the evidence,” and, “We do not choose whether or not we do our job based on outside pressures, intimidation or for any reason other than the evidence,” two statements that imply the US Anti-Doping Agency has additional evidence pointing to the big U.S. Postal star athlete and his support team during some of the most monumental feats of his competitive career.
Armstrong reacted with his traditional strong suit, an adamant statement: “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.”
Armstrong who competed in his last Tour de France in 2010, but has since been participating in IronMan competitions around the country, has now been banned from partaking in those events.
Even though Armstrong won only a portion of his victories while with the U.S. Postal Team, at stake are all seven TDF titles if Armstrong is eventually found to have abused the anti-doping rules.
Armstrong endured two years of painful investigation by federal officials, and they ended their investigation after failing to come up with real evidence of cheating by the rider.
In his statement Armstrong indicated that this new investigation by USADA is relying on the same failed tips:
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.
Now starts an elaborate process whereby an arbitration panels reviews whatever evidence is presented by both sides–USADA, and Armstrong and his managers and doctors, and it is that panel that comes to its conclusion.
In the meantime, Armstrong’s plans to participate in the French IronMan held in Nice, France on June 24 have been scuttled, undoubtedly frustrating for a man who loves to compete in any format.
Armstrong’s legacy as a cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France winner have led many to believe that his public status as a champion of sports and disease, major fundraiser and leader in sports have given him an immunity that others like Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis never enjoyed when they were accused, and found guilty of cheating by using performance enhancing drugs.
But so far, no hard physical evidence has supported any of the multi-pronged attacks against the athlete.
Among his supporters is the very foundation he created, Livestrong. A statement by the CEO endorsed Armstrong without coming to terms with his potential culpability:
“We learned today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has leveled charges against Lance Armstrong that he violated its rules throughout his career, based on the testimony of anonymous accusers,” wrote Doug Ulman on the Livestrong blog, which has top paid placement in a Google search of Armstrong news.
But the CEO left room for doubt just in case: “In our eyes, Lance will always remain a champion. Nothing can shake our faith in him as a leader and trailblazer on behalf of cancer survivors.”