This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
Lance Armstrong has opted not to fight the charges of doping and conspiracy leveled against him by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
“There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ For me, that time is now,” Armstrong said in a statement. “I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999. Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart’s unconstitutional witch hunt. The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense.”
Click here to read the full statement.
Armstrong’s trainer Michele Ferrari and doctor Luis del Moral have already been given lifetime bans in the same case, but Armstrong and his attorneys maintain that USADA does not have the right to bring these charges, that the current anti-doping procedures put that duty in the hands of the sport’s governing body, the UCI.
“Mr. Armstrong is not requesting a AAA arbitration because – unlike USADA – he respects the rules applicable to him and not because of any belief that USADA’s charges have merit or any fear of what a fair proceeding would establish,” his attorneys Tim Herman and Robert Luskin wrote.
“Under all the applicable rules, USADA cannot proceed until it submits its evidence to UCI’s independent panel for review and adjudicates any disputes with that panel about jurisdiction, scope, the reliability of the evidence, and all related issues with UCI in CAS. At an absolute minimum, UCI and USADA should go to CAS to resolve the jurisdiction issue before any proceedings begin, a solution offered by UCI but rejected by USADA.”
USADA’s case dates back to 1998, with USADA seeking to strip Armstrong of all seven Tour de France victories as well as victories in the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré and Tour de Suisse.
The agency charged that Armstrong not only used EPO, Coriticosteriods, Testosterone, Human Growth Hormone and blood transfusions, but also masked the use of these performance enhancing drugs and methods with saline and plasma infusions. Additionally, it alleged Armstrong, during his time with the US Postal Service and Discovery Channel, encouraged and facilitating doping by his teammates.
The charges from the 1998-2005 period stem from witness testimony from “numerous riders, team personnel and others” who either observed Armstrong doping, had him admit to doping directly to them, or were encouraged to use or received assistance in doping by Armstrong.
But Armstrong and his attorneys have vigorously denied all the claims, calling USADA’s case a “witch hunt”.
Additionally, USADA is reported to have acquired data from 38 of Armstrong’s blood samples from his comeback years, which it alleges demonstrates manipulation by blood doping, as well as 2001 Tour de Suisse doping control data that indicated EPO use.
The UCI has objected to the agency going forward with these charges, insisting that it should be the body to have results management authority over any doping cases, although the World Anti-Doping Agency has backed USADA in its jurisdiction.
USADA has stated that giving the case to the UCI would be like “the fox guarding the hen house” because of their vested interest in keeping the image of the sport free from such scandals, as well as the UCI’s possible involvement in covering up a 2001 doping positive by Armstrong.
Armstrong’s attorneys leveled their objections to USADA’s proceedings in the US federal courts, taking the case to a Texas district court in an attempt to block it from moving forward. They called the proceedings a violation of Armstrong’s Constitutional right to due process, argued that the arbitration system could not provide a fair decision and that the lack of information provided regarding witness identity and testimony was a violation of USADA’s own rules.
Judge Sam Sparks dismissed the case, finding that the arbitration system set up specifically for sports doping cases was sufficient to provide a fair hearing, and that USADA’s rules provide for ample time for discovery of evidence prior to the hearing. But he did not make a judgement on whether USADA had jurisdiction over the UCI or not.
Armstrong was faced with the August 23 deadline to inform USADA if he would take the case to arbitration or accept the ban. But today his attorneys simply stated that he would not go forward with the proceedings because they feel only the UCI has the right to bring charges against him.