The US Anti Doping Agency has formally laid charges against road cycling's most successful rider Lance Armstrong; the New York Times reports:
The United States Anti-Doping Agency has officially charged Lance Armstrong with a violation, accusing him of doping during most of his cycling career and taking part in a doping conspiracy.The case against Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner who retired from cycling last year, will be heard by an arbitration panel if he rejects the charges. That arbitration hearing could be open to the public, if Armstrong chooses, and could be held by November.Armstrong, 40, has hinted that he will fight the charges, which are the latest in more than a decade of doping allegations against him, but he has not announced how he will move forward. He says he has never used performance-enhancing drugs.Johan Bruyneel, Armstrong’s longtime team manager; Michele Ferrari, Armstrong’s former trainer; two team doctors and a team trainer also were charged with doping violations. They were accused of involvement with the suspected scheme while with the United States Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams.If the charges against them are upheld, Armstrong and the others cited face lifetime bans from cycling and other Olympic sports.
Despite his claim to be the most-tested athlete on the planet, there has always been a question-mark over Lance Armstrong. Professional cycling is rife with drug cheats; is it plausible that Armstrong was so much better than those who were chemically assisted for so long?
Battle lines have already been drawn; read on:
Robert D. Luskin, one of Armstrong’s lawyers, sent a statement on Friday that said Armstrong was “exploring all his legal options.” He called the antidoping agency’s decision to charge Armstrong “wrong” and “baseless.”“There is not one shred of credible evidence to support USADA’s charges,” Luskin said.Luskin said the antidoping agency charged Armstrong based on an e-mail message from Floyd Landis, who was stripped of the Tour title in 2006 for doping, and a television interview given by Tyler Hamilton, who last year admitted being part of a doping scheme on the United States Postal Service team. Both were Armstrong’s teammates and have claimed that Armstrong doped and encouraged doping.The antidoping agency has said, however, that it has more than 10 cyclists who will testify against Armstrong, as well as other team employees who will say Armstrong doped. The agency says it has firsthand witnesses for every charge.
This investigation will become one of 2012's biggest sporting stories , and we'll be keeping a close eye on it. We'll be interested to hear what our in-house cycling expert James Stephenson has to say, given that he follows the sport a lot more closely than we do.
Watch this space...