By Michael Arbeiter, Hollywood.com Staff
Lance Armstrong is once again facing the controversy of doping allegations. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has officially charged the world renowned cyclist, via a letter released on Tuesday, with abusing the performance-enhancing hormone Erythropoietin. Armstrong, 40, has been banned from participating in Ironman triathlons, and is presently at risk of losing his seven previous Tour de France titles.
The Washington Post reports that the USADA claims that Armstrong's blood samples, which the organization collected in 2009 and 2010, were ""fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions."" This is the most recent of many allegations that the athlete has faced, despite his never having failed a drug test.
In response to the charges, Armstrong released a statement on Wednesday detailing his decree of innocence.
""I have been notified that USADA, an organization 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.""In addition to Armstrong, USADA is also implicating team manager Johan Bruyneel and physician Michele Ferrari, as well as ten other athletes and one trainer, in the alleged abuse of substances.
In the past, Armstrong has been accused by individuals including former teammates Tyler Hamilton (in 2011), Floyd Landis (in 2010), and Frankie Andreu (2006), and by Armstrong's former assistant Mike Anderson (in 2005).
[Image Credit: lancearmstrong.com]
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