If Lance Armstrong had cooperated with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's investigation, he might have retained most of his cycling titles, USADA chief executive officer Travis Tygart said recently.
On Friday, Aug. 24, USADA hit Armstrong with a lifetime ban and stripped him of all cycling results since 1998, including his seven Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005. USADA charged that Armstrong used blood transfusions and banned substances to gain an advantage, and sanctioned him when he chose to not fight the case.
The statute of limitations is eight years, but it can be extended in certain types of cases, including a cover-up. USADA determined that Armstrong and others fraudulently hid their doping, dating back to the 1990s.
If Armstrong had "come in and been truthful, then the evidence might have been that the statute [of limitations] should apply," Tygart said, adding that scenario "would have been fine by us." Tygart confirmed that would have meant USADA stripping Armstrong of only two of his seven Tour de France titles, in 2004 and 2005.
Tygart said if Armstrong comes clean about doping in cycling, his lifetime ban could be revisited.
The agency would have lessened Armstrong's punishment "if he would have been truthful and willing to meet to help the sport move forward for the good," Tygart said.
"Of course, this is still possible, and we always remain open, because while the truth hurts, ultimately, from what we have seen in these types of cases, acknowledging the truth is the best way forward, "he added.
Armstrong's attorneys say that only the International Cycling Union (UCI) has the power to sanction him, and that USADA is not authorized to do so.
Tygart stood firm by USADA's decision and said the World Anti-Doping Agency and UCI could appeal.
"Unless and until it is appealed and overturned, then under the world rules, it must be imposed," Tygart said.