The World Triathlon Corporation announced Thursday that cycling champion Lance Armstrong will be banned from triathlon competitions while he is under investigation for doping.
This is not Armstrong’s first brush with doping allegations. In February, federal investigators dropped accusations from a two-year-long investigation into Armstrong.
In the most recent allegations, the United States Anti-Doping Agency has accused Armstrong, and five others, of taking part in a doping conspiracy taking place from 1998 to 2011.
These charges could result in Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour De France victories, if he is proven guilty.
“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. “Any fair consideration of these allegations has and will continue to vindicate me.”
The USADA sent a letter to Armstrong on June 12 saying that 2009 and 2010 blood samples were “consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions.”
The case is fairly non-analytical, meaning that Armstrong hasn’t tested positive and the accusations are based mostly on testimonies from other riders that had first-hand knowledge of Armstrong and others’ alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.
“These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity,” Armstrong wrote on Twitter Wednesday.
“There have been a lot of athletes who have faced sanctions through non-analytical evidence,” said David Howman, director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency. “We do not rely on science only nowadays. You cannot accept that science alone will find those who might be breaching the rules. So this is not unusual.”
Armstrong is now 40 years old and retired from professional cycling last year, at which point triathlons became his main focus.
Robert Luskin, Armstrong’s attorney, said that there is reason to believe that the USADA is setting his client up.
“It is a vendetta, which has nothing to do with learning the truth and everything to do with settling a score and garnering publicity at Lance’s expense,” he wrote.
Armstrong has been given until June 22 to write a written response to accusations and, according to the USADA letter, a hearing should take place by November.