Lance Armstrong said the U.S. Anti- Doping Agency overstepped its authority, violated federal laws and failed to give him a meaningful opportunity to defend himself against allegations that he and five others participated in a wide-ranging doping conspiracy.
Armstrong’s attorney, Robert Luskin, responding to initial allegations USADA made on June 12, sent an 11-page letter to an agency review board yesterday. A copy of the response was provided to Bloomberg News.
The response from Armstrong’s representatives offered little new information, referring to past news articles and court cases.
The letter asked the agency to submit evidence supporting its allegations or the review board “should summarily recommend that this matter be dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence.”
Armstrong, who won the Tour de France every year from 1999 to 2005, is in jeopardy of being stripped of those titles and has been banned from participating in events organized by the World Triathlon Corp., which owns the Ironman series, after USADA brought the doping allegations against him and five others.
“USADA’s overly expansive view of its own authority -- not to mention its smug self-regard -- undoubtedly explains its threadbare charging document, its arrogant and craven refusal to disclose its evidence, and its complacent expectation that the review board will not hold it accountable,” Armstrong’s attorneys said in the letter.
USADA Chief Executive Officer Travis Tygart issued a statement in response to the letter, saying “the established rules provide full due process and are designed to get to the truth.”
A three-person USADA review board will decide if there is enough evidence to support the allegations against Armstrong. If USADA files formal charges, the case then would go to a three- person arbitration panel.
USADA said in its initial charging letter, a first step in the process for alleged doping violations, that if the case proceeded beyond the review board it would recommend a sanction that “may include up to a lifetime period of ineligibility from participation in sport.”
The Colorado Springs, Colorado-based agency “already has advised us that USADA may ignore what the review board recommends and continue its obsessive pursuit of Mr. Armstrong, even if the review board finds no evidence upon which to proceed,” Luskin said in his response.
Luskin’s letter also said offers of light treatment to other riders in exchange for testimony against Armstrong, such as that given to former teammate Floyd Landis, “violate federal law, namely, the federal bribery statute.”
Armstrong said the day after USADA’s notification that the allegations were “baseless.” He turned down a chance to meet with the doping agency prior to receiving the charging letter, and Luskin wrote in a letter to USADA that the meeting would have been a “demand wrapped in a threat” seeking Armstrong’s confession.
Armstrong was scheduled to race his first professional full Ironman triathlon tomorrow to try to qualify for the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in October. Comcast Corp. (CMCSA:US)’s NBC Network said this month it planned to air this year’s championship six weeks earlier than usual and expand the coverage to focus on Armstrong.
USADA said the six men engaged in a doping conspiracy from 1998 to 2011. The agency said it had examined blood samples from Armstrong in 2009 and 2010 that were “fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions.” EPO is the abbreviation for erythropoietin, which can add energy-boosting properties to blood.
Armstrong, who survived testicular cancer and created Livestrong, the largest athlete-founded charity by donations, never has been publicly identified as testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. In February, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles ended a criminal drug probe involving Armstrong and his professional bicycle racing team without filing charges.
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