Lance Armstrong and his seven Tour de France titles are under scrutiny again. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has formally charged Armstrong with doping during his 2009 and 2010 comeback seasons. The USADA has made public that the blood samples taken from Armstrong during that period are “fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions.”
The USADA letter obtained by the Washington Post alleges that “multiple riders with firsthand knowledge” will testify that Armstrong used EPO and other forms of doping between 1998-2005 and 2009-2011, and that he distributed and administered drugs to other cyclist between 1998 and 2005.
Lance Armstrong has never tested positive, except for that one time that didn’t count, and has remained adamant that he has never doped and has competed his entire career as a clean cyclist. Armstrong has had several of his ex-teammates come out publicly and declare that they have seen him inject himself and that Armstrong encouraged those around him to dope also.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office recently dropped a two-year investigation into the doping allegations levied on Armstrong by his former teammates Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis.
Armstrong released the following statement on his website in regards to the new charges.
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.
It would be easy to say that these charges are bogus and should be disregarded just like the last charges probably should have been, but the last charges came without new blood tests. Armstrong may have made a mistake when he decided to come out of retirement and compete on a high level again because this has allowed the anti-doping agencies to gather new blood for comparisons to what now has to be, fossilized blood. If any blood manipulation has taken place during Armstrong’s return to cycling, these agencies will not let it pass without a fight.
[Image via Getty, Washington Post]