(NEW YORK) — Lance Armstrong is a famous athlete known for fighting cancer. But now he is gearing up for a fight to clear his name in the latest round of doping allegations, backed by lawyers wondering whether it will be a fair fight.
In the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) letter to Armstrong, officials lay out damaging allegations and promises of testimony from at least 10 other cyclists who will say under oath that he used drugs to win.
“They went to these riders like [The Godfather character] Don Corleone and gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse,” Armstrong lawyer Robert Luskin said.
Luskin is one member of a team of high-priced, connected lawyers digging in for an all out fight to clear Armstrong, 40, once and for all.
“Lance is a competitor,” Luskin said. “He’s never shirked from a fight.”
Armstrong’s legal team calls him one of the most tested athletes of all-time, passing more than 500 tests and never failing. The USADA, which tests athletes in this country, shows a total of 29 drug tests for Armstrong since 2001. There were many more tests done in Europe, but those have not been made public.
Now, the USADA officials say they’ve turned up Armstrong blood samples from 2009 and 2010 that appear to show doping.
“If those tests had ever been positive, we wouldn’t be talking about whether or not he wanted to release them,” Luskin said. “They would have been released and he would have been disciplined.”
In a statement Wednesday, Armstrong called the USADA’s allegations “baseless” and “motivated by spite.” Armstrong is accused of using the blood booster EPO, blood transfusions, a human growth hormone, testosterone and steroids. Such doping would have made him a stronger and faster racer.
“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 February, a federal investigation against the cyclist did not result in his indictment. Doping is not a crime, but investigators could have charged him with money laundering and conspiracy to hide any use of performance-enhancing drugs.
The investigation included several teammates, including Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis, who said that they’d seen Armstrong use a variety of performance-enhancing drugs when they raced.
In a 2010 interview with ABC’s Nightline, Landis described in detail how he and fellow cyclists — his former friends — doped during the Tour de France.
Landis won the Tour de France is 2006 and was stripped of the title in 2010. The very same punishment could be handed down to Armstrong, who could also be banned from competing in the sport he loves.
The nightmarish week for Armstrong continued with news Wednesday that organizers of Ironman France banned the seven-time Tour De France winner from competing in the triathlon later this month.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
Kathryn Vasel, CNN
Pamela Brown, CNN
Tracy Bloom & Chip Yost, CNN