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United States Anti-Doping Agency Formally Charges Lance Armstrong

By Jennifer N. Graham

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) formally charged seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong with violating anti-doping policies that could ultimately cause him to forfeit his titles and ban him from cycling for life. As an immediate result of the charges, Armstrong is unable to compete in Ironman Triathlons, which he has been competing in and winning since he retired from cycling in 2012.

In a 15 page charging letter dated June 12, 2012, the USADA accuses Armstrong of using, possessing and trafficking the blood booster erythropoietin (EPO), blood transfusions, testosterone and masking agents from 1998 to 2011.

The USADA further alleges that Armstrong was involved in a doping conspiracy from 1998 to 2007, along with several members of his cycling team, including Armstrong's team manager, Johan Bruyneel, and Michele Ferrari, Armstrong's former trainer. The USADA claims to have at least 10 former teammates and associates of Armstrong willing to testify before the arbitration panel in support of these charges. The USADA also states that Armstrong's blood samples obtained by Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body for cycling, from 2009 and 2010 are consistent with blood doping.

Armstrong's attorney, Robert D. Luskin of Patton Boggs, responded to the charges as baseless and without merit and a product of a malicious campaign led by USADA's chief executive, Travis Tygart, against Armstrong. Armstrong maintains his innocence and on his website, www.lancearmstrong.com, asserts he has passed more than 500 drug tests over the course of his career and has never failed one.

Armstrong's attorneys affirm that they are exploring all legal options and have hinted at filing federal charges against USADA investigators for compelling false testimony from witnesses in exchange for promises that those witnesses would avoid facing their own doping charges.

In February 2012, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. ended a two-year long investigation of Armstrong involving doping allegations without filing criminal charges against the 40 year old iconic athlete. While the USADA cannot bring criminal charges against Armstrong, the 12 year old agency, which is funded jointly by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the federal government, has authority to suspend athletes from competition and to rescind awards.

The USADA is a signatory of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and adheres to its World Anti-Doping Code. Article 17 of the World Anti-Doping Code sets forth the statute of limitations and requires actions to be commenced within eight years from the date of the alleged violation.

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