(WASHINGTON) — Former cyclist Lance Armstrong has been banned from competing in triathlons and could be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency brought formal doping charges against him, according to a 15-page letter sent to Armstrong that was obtained by The Washington Post.
The USADA — a quasi-government agency — alleges in the letter that Armstrong, along with five former cycling team associates, three doctors and a trainer took part in a doping conspiracy from 1998-2011, and that more than 10 cyclists described in the letter were witnesses to the doping. The agency also claims it collected blood samples from Armstrong in 2009 and 2010 and found signs of blood manipulation.
Armstrong Wednesday denied the doping accusations in a statement, calling the charges “baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity immunity.”
“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,” Armstrong said in the statement Wednesday. “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.”
After almost two years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles recently closed its investigation into doping allegations against Armstrong without indicting him.
Armstrong, who took up triathlon competitions after his retirement from cycling, was scheduled to compete in the Ironman France in Nice on June 24, according to The Washington Post.
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Ed Lavandera, Boris Sanchez, Madison Park and Holly Yan, CNN
Melissa Gray, CNN
Brian Stelter, CNN