When federal prosecutors declined to file any charges against seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong this past February, the United States Anti-Doping Agency ( USADA) was quick to say the government’s decision wouldn’t affect their work either way.
“Unlike the US attorney, USADA’s job is to protect clean sport rather than enforce specific criminal laws,” USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said at the time. “Our investigation into doping in the sport of cycling is continuing and we look forward to obtaining the information developed during the federal investigation.”
Wednesday, USADA dropped the other shoe, alleging that Armstrong and his associates on the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery cycling teams were guilty of drug use and conspiracy.
Amy Shipley of the Washington Post broke the story, reporting that the charges included both familar, previously media-aired allegations dating back to 1998, but also new ones, with USADA saying it collected blood samples from him in 2009 and 2010 that were “fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions.”
“The 12-year-old agency, which is funded jointly by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the federal government, almost never loses cases, though few athletes have the financial means or iconic status of Armstrong,” Shipley also wrote.
While USADA still has to prove its case, merely being under a formal investigation means Armstrong can no longer compete on the triathlon circuit, as he had been doing this year. He won his first race in Florida last month, and is currently in France, where he was expected to race on June 24 as part of the qualification process for October’s Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.
The World Triathlon Corporation had partnered with Armstrong to raise $1 million for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, but its rules prohibit athletes from competing during an investigation.
The Wall Street Journal published the entire fifteen-page charging document (