Although Lance Armstrong was cleared by the U.S. Attorney's Office earlier this year following a two-year investigation into doping allegations, the USADA (The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) is re-issuing charges against the former cyclist, citing the emergence of previously unpublicized allegations.
According to the Washington Post, Armstrong was notified of the actions in a 15-page letter on Tuesday which effectively ban him from competing in triathlons until he is cleared of the charges. The cyclist was scheduled to compete in the Ironman France in Nice on June 24.
Armstrong posted an open, strongly worded letter to the organization on his website today, asserting his innocence and lashing out at the agency which he slams as "malicious" and corrupt.
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"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."
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The USADA letter specifically alleges that "multiple riders with firsthand knowledge" will testify that Armstrong used and administered drugs to other cyclists. It further alleges that Armstrong engaged in a massive doping conspiracy.
The agency later responded to Armstrong's outrage with the following statement:
"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."
Although the USADA does not have the power to bring criminal charges against Armstrong, he could lose his seven Tour de France titles.