AUSTIN, Texas – For Lance Armstrong, the doping allegations aren’t going away. In fact, they’re starting all over again.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency filed formal charges against the seven-time Tour de France winner, threatening to strip him of his victories in the race.
Armstrong, who forcefully denied the accusations, could face a lifetime ban from the sport if he is found to have used performance-enhancing drugs. The move by the USADA immediately bans him from competing in triathlons, which he turned to after he retired from cycling last year.
Armstrong has been dogged by doping allegations since his first Tour victory in 1999, but had hoped his fight to be viewed as a clean champion was finally won after U.S. federal prosecutors closed a two-year criminal probe in February without bringing any charges.
But USADA officials insisted they would continue to pursue their own probe into Armstrong and his former teams and doctors, and notified him of the charges in a 15-page letter on Tuesday. Unlike federal prosecutors, USADA isn’t burdened by proving a crime occurred, just that there was use of performance-enhancing drugs.
In its letter, USADA said its investigation included evidence dating back to 1996. It also included the new charge that Armstrong blood samples taken in 2009 and 2010 are fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions. Armstrong came out of his first retirement to race in the Tour de France those two years.
Armstrong, who was in France while training for a triathlon, issued a statement dismissing the latest allegations as baseless and motivated by spite.