AUSTIN, Texas — The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has filed formal charges against Lance Armstrong, accusing the seven-time Tour de France winner of using performance-enhancing drugs throughout the best years of his career.
The charges came after a USADA review panel examined evidence in the case, which now goes to an arbitration panel to decide. If found guilty, Armstrong could be stripped of the Tour de France titles he won from 1999-2005. This year’s Tour de France begins Saturday.
Also charged are team doctors Pedro Celaya Lezama and Luis Garcia del Moral; team trainer Pepe Marti, and consulting doctor Michele Ferrari. Because they are so closely linked, USADA rolled all of the charges into a single case.
Armstrong and the others “(have) been part of a doping conspiracy involving team officials, employees, doctors and elite cyclists,” said the USADA letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.
The letter accuses Armstrong of using, possessing and trafficking banned substances including the blood-booster EPO, blood transfusions and steroids. The charges date back to 1998, after he had been declared cancer free but before his first Tour de France victory the following summer.
Bruyneel, who is currently the manager of the Radioshack-Nissan-Trek team recently announced he would skip this year’s Tour because of the USADA investigation.
“It is the entirely predictable product of USADA’s toxic obsession with Lance Armstrong and a process in which truth is not a priority,” Luskin said. “There is not one shred of credible evidence to support USADA’s charges and an unbroken record of more than 500 clean tests over more than a decade and a half to refute it.”
The formal charges came after a unanimous recommendation from a three-person USADA review panel that looked at the evidence.
“All respondents will have the opportunity to exercise their right to a full public arbitration hearing, should they so choose, where all evidence would be presented, witness testimony would be given under oath,” USADA said in a statement.
“USADA will continue to follow the established procedures that are compliant with federal law and were approved by athletes, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and all Olympic sports organizations.”