AUSTIN (KXAN) - According to a report in Wednesday's Washington Post, the United States Anti-Doping Agency will bring formal charges against Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, an Austin resident.
Armstrong has been immediately banned from competition in triathlons, a sport he took up after his retirement from cycling in 2011, the Post article said.
In a statement issued mid-afternoon, Armstrong said,
"I have been notified that USADA, an organization largely funded by taxpayer dollars but governed only by self-written rules, intends to again dredge up discredited allegations dating back more than 16 years to prevent me from competing as a triathlete and try and strip me of the seven Tour de France victories I earned. These are the very same charges and the same witnesses that the Justice Department chose not to pursue after a two-year investigation. These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity. Although USADA alleges a wide-ranging conspiracy extended over more than 16 years, I am the only athlete it has chosen to charge. USADA's malice, its methods, its star-chamber practices, and its decision to punish first and adjudicate later all are at odds with our ideals of fairness and fair play.
"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. 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."
The Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's Office ended a nearly two-year investigation into doping allegations involving Armstrong without bringing criminal charges in February.
The USADA is chaired by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard W. Cohen , who has headed the organization since 2003, but joined the board in 2000. The organization's vice chair is physicist and former Track and Field Olympian Edwin Moses. The USADA is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Fans of Armstrong are once again weighing what the allegations mean for his legacy. Some say the charges tarnish his message of physical fitness while others say his contribution to Livestrong and cancer research can never be diminished.
"I don't know what he did and didn't do, but I know what he does for people who have cancer," said Chris Oballe who works out at the 24 Hour Fitness bearing Armstrong's name and memorabilia.
Fans at Mellow Johnny's, a bike store owned by Armstrong, say the charges stem from the same accusations Armstrong has been facing for years.
Livestrong also released a statement:
"The Lance Armstrong Foundation's mission is to serve people living with cancer. As founder and chairman, Lance has worked tirelessly for 15 years to further the fight against the world's leading cause of death and empower its survivors.
"Our hearts go out to Lance and his family as they face what can only be a very frustrating and difficult time as a result of USADA's actions.
"Lance's courage in speaking out about cancer - when many athletes would have kept silent - helped spark a global change in how the disease and its survivors are perceived. Lance created a foundation to serve the financial, practical and emotional needs of cancer survivors before winning a single Tour de France. Through his dedication and persistence on behalf of the foundation and its mission, nearly $500 million has been raised to serve cancer survivors and their families.
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