The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) have brought new allegations of doping against seven-time Tour de France winner and current Ironman athlete Lance Armstrong, which have prompted the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) to declare him ineligible for their races “pending further review”.
The WTC’s rules state that an athlete is ineligible to compete during an open investigation, and this means that Armstrong’s highly-anticipated full-Ironman debut at Ironman France on June 24 has been officially cancelled after the WTC confirmed to ESPN.com this weekend that the rule will stay in place.
WTC CEO Andrew Messick said that there was serious discussion about reconsidering the rule. Ultimately, he said, the leadership decided it would be “inappropriate to change the rule in midseason.”
“There were 815 athletes who agreed to the rule that is currently standing, and there’s no ambiguity about it,” Messick told ESPN.com. “Even if it has unintended consequences, (rescinding) it isn’t the right thing to do for the integrity of the sport.”
ARMSTRONG’S RESPONSE?Armstrong responded to the allegations with a statement on his personal website, saying:
“I have been notified that USADA, an organisation 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.”
USADA STATEMENT?The USADA responded with a statement of their own, saying:
“In response to numerous inquiries regarding the public statements made by Mr Lance Armstrong, was can confirm that written notice of allegations of anti-doping rule violations was sent yesterday to him and five additional individuals all formerly associated with the United States Postal Service (USPS) professional cycling team.
“These individuals include three team doctors and two team officials.
“This formal notice letter is the first step in the multi-step legal process for alleged sport anti-doping rule violations.”
The Wall Street Journal have a copy of the letter sent to Armstrong and the other accused (including Johan Bruyneel and Dr Michele Ferrari) that can be found here.