The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) brought formal doping charges against Lance Armstrong this week, immediately barring him from competition in triathlons and ending his impressive streak of finishes in his first year competing in the Ironman series. The charges could also cost him his seven Tour de France titles, according to a letter sent to Armstrong and several others.
The Washington Post did a good job breaking the story, noting the 15-page charging letter from the USADA outlined new allegations against Armstrong, saying it collected blood samples from him in 2009 and 2010 that were “fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions.”
Bummer for Lance, bummer for the triathlon community. Below is his response:
"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."
Some of the alleged doping outlined in the letter happened more than eight years ago, which falls beyond the scope of the World Anti-Doping Association's statute of limitations. In the letter, USADA says the statute doesn't apply because the co-conspirators made "false statements" and engaged in "fraudulent concealment or other wrongful conduct."
Witch hunt, or us the USADA just doing it's job? Hard to say. It appears the allegations are attacking an alleged system of doping, more so than an individual (there are five named in this letter). But it appears it is far from over.
After Sports Illustrated published a story in January 2011 alleging that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs, he tweeted that he looked forward to being vindicated by USADA. I guess he can file this in the "be careful what you wish for" category.