New York/Atlanta: Lance Armstrong faces accusations from the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) four months after federal prosecutors dropped a criminal drug probe against the seven-time Tour de France cycling champion.
Armstrong—who called the latest allegations “baseless” and reiterated that he has never flunked a drug test—has been banned immediately from competing in triathlons because of the investigation.
“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,” Armstrong said in an email statement.
Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of USADA, said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday that Armstrong, three doctors and two officials from the cyclist’s former US Postal Service team were notified of the doping allegations a day earlier.
Lance Armstrong. Photo: Bloomberg
“USADA only initiates matters supported by the evidence,” Tygart said. “We do not choose whether or not we do our job based on outside pressures, intimidation or for any reason other than the evidence.”
Armstrong won the Tour de France, cycling’s premier event, each year from 1999 to 2005 after surviving testicular cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs. The Lance Armstrong Foundation, which he founded in 1997 to help cancer survivors, has raised $500 million (Rs 2,790 crore), the charity’s chief executive officer Doug Ulman said.
“If he hadn’t had cancer and started the foundation, I think he probably would lose a lot of endorsers,” Steve Herz, a sports agent and president of New York-based IF Management Inc., said in a telephone interview. Armstrong, 40, who retired from cycling in February 2011, has endorsement agreements with Nike Inc., Trek Bicycle Corp. and Oakley Inc. Even if he’s found guilty, his reputation won’t suffer unduly in the eyes of corporate backers or the public, said Steve McDaniel, sports and entertainment marketing professor at the University of Maryland.