The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) now suspended Lance Armstrong from competing in triathlons until his latest doping investigation is completed, according to sources.
A report published in the Washington Post indicates Armstrong, a seven-time winner of the Tour de France, could also be at risk of having his Tour titles stripped from him.
The issue surrounds blood samples Armstrong gave during 2009 and 2010 that are described as “fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions.” Also, the USADA believes Armstrong participated in a “massive doping conspiracy” from 1998 to 2011 while he rode for US Postal, Discovery Channel, Astana, and Team RadioShack.
Cycling team manager Johan Bruyneel—current team manager for RadioShack-Nissan-Trek—along with Italian doctor Michele Ferrari reportedly spearheaded the doping ring that riders on the team participated in.
Over the years, several of Armstrong’s top lieutenants, including Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis, have spoken out about Armstrong’s alleged doping. Furthermore, former teammates George Hincapie and Frankie Andreu reportedly told federal investigators they saw Armstrong using banned performance enhancing substances.
Here is what Lance Armstrong had to say on his official website:
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.
Ironically, the U.S. Attorney’s Office ended an investigation that took almost two years without filing any charges against Armstrong.
Armstrong recently won two 70.3 Half Ironman triathlon events and hoped to qualify for the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. However, he will no longer be able to compete in any triathlons for the immediate future, so his participation in Hawaii seems rather unlikely at this point in time.
Okay, if he doped—and that’s if they have clear proof he cheated—he should be punished for his actions. However, I’m more concerned about the damage the U.S. Attorney’s Office and USADA’s investigations will have on Armstrong’s Livestrong foundation. If he's stripped of his titles and shunned from the cycling world, cancer research funds will dwindle due to lack of interest and dishonesty by Armstrong. And that will be a shame.