Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong said he won’t fight drug allegations by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which the cyclist called part of an “unconstitutional witch hunt.”
Armstrong’s attorneys sent a letter to USADA today saying they wouldn’t seek arbitration in the case. His decision comes three days after a federal judge in Armstrong’s hometown of Austin, Texas, rejected the cyclist’s request to block USADA from proceeding with its case.
“If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA’s process I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and -- once and for all -- put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance,” Armstrong said in a letter. “But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair.”
Armstrong, 40, won the Tour de France every year from 1999 to 2005, a record for the sport’s most prestigious race. He survived testicular cancer early in his career, and created Livestrong, a charity that has raised more than $470 million for the fight against cancer, according to its website.
USADA, the anti-doping organization for U.S. Olympic sports, notified Armstrong in June that he, three doctors and two officials from the cyclist’s former U.S. Postal Service racing team were accused of using and trafficking prohibited drugs, according to court filings. The Colorado Springs, Colorado-based agency said Armstrong could have an independent panel of arbitrators to decide the matter.
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks threw out Armstrong’s lawsuit Aug. 20, saying he had to arbitrate the group’s allegations under the terms of his cycling contracts. Armstrong claimed USADA had no authority over him and that its proceedings were rigged. The cyclist faced a deadline of midnight today to respond to the allegations in court.
Sparks, while rejecting Armstrong’s claims, said there were “troubling aspects” in the lawsuit against the agency, including the appearance of conflicts of interest on the part of USADA and an international cycling federation that has backed Armstrong’s position, as well as cyclist’s claims that the USADA’s procedures violate his right to see and question the evidence against him before an arbitration hearing.
The federal case is Armstrong v. U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, 1:12-cv-00606, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin).
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