Lance Armstrong faces new doping charges, brought up by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), and has been barred immediately from competition in triathlons. His recent victory at the Ironman 70.3 Florida might be his last for a while.
In addition to the competition ban, Armstrong could - if ultimately found guilty - be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
USADA alleges that blood samples collected from Armstrong indicate the use of EPO and/or blood transfusions. The samples were collected during 2009 and 2010.
"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," said Armstrong 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."
USADA CEO Travis Tygart responded almost immediately.
“In response to numerous inquiries regarding the public statements made by Mr. Lance Armstrong, we can confirm that written notice of allegations of anti-doping rule violations was sent yesterday to him and to five (5) additional individuals all formerly associated with the United States Postal Service (USPS) professional cycling team. These individuals include three (3) team doctors and two (2) team officials. This formal notice letter is the first step in the multi-step legal process for alleged sport anti-doping rule violations.
USADA only initiates matters supported by the evidence. We do not choose whether or not we do our job based on outside pressures, intimidation or for any reason other than the evidence. Our duty on behalf of clean athletes and those that value the integrity of sport is to fairly and thoroughly evaluate all the evidence available and when there is credible evidence of doping, take action under the established rules.
As in every USADA case, all named individuals are presumed innocent of the allegations unless and until proven otherwise through the established legal process. If a hearing is ultimately held then it is an independent panel of arbitrators, not USADA that determines whether or not these individuals have committed anti-doping rule violations as alleged.
At this time USADA will not comment on the evidence or have further comment unless or until it is appropriate.”