Cyclist Could be Stripped of All 7 Tour de France Wins
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has brought formal doping charges against seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, which could cost him his victories in the storied cycling race, according to a letter sent to Armstrong and others on Tuesday.
If Armstrong is found to have used performance-enhancing drugs, he could face a lifetime ban from the sport. The charges brought by USADA have resulted in Armstrong being immediately banned from competing in triathlons, which is a sport he took up after retiring from cycling in 2011.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Armstrong dismissed any doping allegations as "baseless" and "motivated by spite", and indicated they came just months after federal prosecutors ended a two-year criminal investigation against him. No indictment was ever brought.
USADA is a quasi-government agency that oversees anti-doping in Olympic sports in the United States. It is authorized to bring charges that could lead to suspension from competing and rescinding of awards. It does not have the authority to bring criminal charges.
The 15-page USADA charging letter accuses Armstrong of using and promoting the use of the blood booster EPO, testosterone, blood transfusions, human growth hormone, and anti-inflammatory steroids. Although the letter doesn't cite specific examples, it does indicate that the charges are based on evidence gathered in an investigation of Armstrong's teams, including witnesses who aren't named in the letter.
Armstrong was victorious in the Tour de France every year from 1999 to 2005. According to USADA's letter, "numerous riders, team personnel and others will testify" they either saw Armstrong dope or heard him tell them he used EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, and cortisone from 1996 to 2005.
The letter also says blood collections gathered by cycling's governing body in 2009 and 2010, are "fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions." In those two years, Armstrong came out of retirement to race in the Tour de France.
USADA officials had indicated they would pursue possible charges against Armstrong even though federal criminal investigators had closed their case. Meanwhile, Armstrong has been in France training for a triathlon. He maintained his innocence, saying in a statement that, "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."