Lance Armstrong has attacked the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after the body informed him they are to open formal action against him.



In a letter sent to USADA on June 13 by Robert D. Luskin, Armstrong’s lawyer, the agency is accused of failing to be accurate, using unsupported evidence, losing sense of neutrality and fair play and using evidence supplied by people who have cooperated purely to save their own skin.



It’s a tried and tested tactic of Armstrong and his team. Over the years he has sought to discredit anyone who has dared speak out against him, and often used blatant intimidation (in the cases of Christophe Bassons and Filippo Simeoni).



USADA wrote to Armstrong (along with Johan Bruyneel, Dr Ferrari two team doctors and a team trainer from the US Postal and Discovery Channel teams) on June 12 informing them they were to open formal action against them for anti-doping rule violations including the use, possession, trafficking and administration of prohibited substances. Also for assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting and covering up anti-doping violations.



Numerous former riders and employees have testified to USADA saying that these violations occurred, and in their letter to Armstrong, USADA claim this is supported by biological passport data from 2009 and 2010 (the time of Armstrong’s most recent comeback).



Much of the evidence USADA has is believed to have been handed over by the Federal Investigation carried out by Jeff Novitsky. That investigation looked in to financial fraud following the allegations made by Floyd Landis, but was closed in February before being concluded. No reason was given for the termination.



>>Essential reading: Series of Events Critical to Legacy. By Bonnie D. Ford on ESPN.com



In the letter sent to USADA, Ruskin says; “You state repeatedly that your allegations of doping are supported by the testimony of more than 10 riders, as well as other team employees. Amazingly, however, not one of these individuals is charged or even identified.”



It goes on to say that the board ‘cannot conduct a meaningful review’  and Armstrong’s rights cannot be protected without knowing ‘who is saying what about events that allegedly occurred.’



In June 2011, Armstrong confronted former team mate Tyler Hamilton in a restaurant in Aspen, Colorado. Some viewed this as a chance encounter, others claimed it was intimidation of a witness.



Hamilton had recently been on American news programme 60 Minutes detailing his use of performance enhancing drugs while in Armstrong’s team and accused Armstrong in being complicit in an organised doping program.



Hamilton had previously admitted this, under oath, in front of a grand jury as part of the Federal Investigation into fraud. Hamilton’s version of what went on is supported by Floyd Landis. George Hincapie is also believed to have supported Hamilton’s testimony when he testified, although he has never spoken to the media about the case.



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The whole of Ruskin’s letter is littered with language that seeks to discredit USADA, saying they have long been concerned by USADA’s conduct, and that none of this surprises them.



Ruskin also questions those in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) whose code USADA operates under, saying; ‘USADA and WADA, in particular, Mr Tygart, Mr Pound and Mr Howman, have long demonstrated their zeal to crucify Mr Armstrong and, in their relentless pursuit, have lost any semblance of independence, neutrality or fair play. We have learned the hard way not to underestimate USADA’s obsession with Mr Armstrong, and you have not disappointed us.’



Armstrong has also now taken to Twitter to attack USADA, saying; “Dear @usantidoping – we have now sent you THREE letters requesting all the relevant info in order for me to respond to your “review board”.” Seemingly trying to subtly discredit them by using inverted commas around the words ‘review board’. It’s worth noting the review board is independent of USADA.



A second tweet read; “Until now there has been no response, not even an acknowledgement of receipt. The knife cuts both ways – it’s time to play by the rules.”



Armstrong continues to deny ever having doped and says that he was tested over 500 times in his career and never once tested positive. In 1999, however, Armstrong tested positive for a corticosteroid while on his way to winning his first Tour de France. The UCI excused the result after a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) form was provided by the team doctor, saying it was for a skin complaint.



It was later alleged that the TUE form was backdated (a common trick used by cycling team doctors over the years) and use corticosteroids are now listed in USADA’s letter as one of the violations.



Samples of Armstrong’s urine, taken in 1999, were found to have contained EPO, the blood boosting drug that was commonly abused in the pro peloton, when re-tested in 2004.



The samples were tested in the Chatenay-Malabry laboratory in France not as an anti-doping measure, but as a way of testing and improving the procedures. It was a  journalist from French sports paper L’Equipe who matched the anonymous identification number on the sample to Armstrong.



Armstrong called it a witch hunt



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>>Essential reading: It’s Not About the Lab Rats. By Bill Gifford on Outsideonline.com



On Friday a free supplement was given away by the Guardian newspaper in the UK called Overcoming Cancer. It was written and produced by Media Planet and it’s cover featured a big picture of Armstrong riding in his Livestrong kit.



No doubt a coincidence, given the timing, it still perfectly illustrates Armstrong’s most powerful tool when it comes to fighting allegations of drug use.



He is the charity’s high profile founder and promotion of Livestrong is promotion of himself, neither has he been afraid of using it as a way of deflecting questions on doping. Questions have however been raised over the way that Livestrong spends its money.



Livestrong has admitted they no longer give money to cancer research projects but instead work to raise awareness of cancer and support survivors. Money undoubtedly goes towards worthwhile projects but some claim a large percentage of it is spent on marketing and promotion. They say to raise the awareness of cancer, others may say it’s to promote Armstrong’s profile.



>>Essential reading: What does Livestrong and Three Cups of Tea have in common? By Mark Zimbelman on Fraudbytes

  • Mick W

    Sorry……I missed the point in your argument where cycling gains . Time will tell where this all leads us ! ( not a good place I suspect ! ).

  • Dan

    @Mick W Your utterances are turning into the web equivalent of white noise.

    What has changed since ‘Personally, I no longer care whether he took drugs or not…’? This could be why you’re not working at an anti-doping agency. Unlike you it is their job to care.
    Now you ‘wonder who will gain from this protracted affair’ and exclaim ‘Certainly not Cycling’.

    ‘How on Earth can it help Cycling to continue to try to discredit the biggest name in the sport ?’ So USADA doing their job = discrediting athletes? Further, correct me if I’m wrong, this is the first time USADA has ever charged Mr Armstrong by himself or along with other people?

    ‘It`s difficult enough to attract sponsors in this “clean” era of the sport, without dragging it back into the mire. Look what has happened to the Sport in Germany and transpose that on a Worldwide scale. Also, I find the timing of this debacle extremely cynical , with the Tour about to start. The Journalists are going to have a field day………Again!’
    You’re back in selective caring mode. Welcome back!
    Comarisons with the sport in Germany will be different for historical reasons.
    The sport in Germany where athletes can pay a fine to make things go away?
    The sport in Germany that produced Degenkolb, Kittel?
    Basically I’m becoming cynical about your selective concerns.

    Finally, what has changed since ‘Great to hear that @usada is investigating some of @si’s claims. I look forward to being vindicated.’
    http://twitter.com/lancearmstrong/status/28344165658005504

  • Mick W

    How on Earth can it help Cycling to continue to try to discredit the biggest name in the sport ? It`s difficult enough to attract sponsors in this “clean” era of the sport, without dragging it back into the mire. Look what has happened to the Sport in Germany and transpose that on a Worldwide scale. Also, I find the timing of this debacle extremely cynical , with the Tour about to start. The Journalists are going to have a field day………Again! Finally, I thought an Athlete only got banned from competing on a failed drugs test, not on rumour and speculation.

  • Jon

    Mick W – I disagree. This affair has been protracted by LA’s concerted and well-resourced efforts to evade justice. It’s been like a cloud over cycling for a long time now and I hope that sending the message that nobody is above the law will help keep the sport clean for years to come.

  • Mick W

    I just wonder who will gain from this protracted affair ?………Certainly not Cycling !

  • PeterLB

    How hard is it for people to understand that Lance is STILL A COMPETING ATHLETE. That is why the USADA HAVE TO INVESTIGATE. He may not be a pro rider anymore, but he is still competing in triathlon and that sport has signed up to the WADA code. Therefore the same rules apply.

  • Simon G

    I personally don’t think there is any doubt that Armstrong Used EPO in the close season and then transfused during the Tour, most other riders were doing it, but I think because he only did the Tour it was easier for him to get away with it. But does it really matter anymore? Most of his rivals were doing it as well so it levelled the playing field. If there had been the tests there are now then he would not be able to dope but I still think he would have won all those tours dope free. It’s just so nice to see proper suffering now they can’t use EPO anymore. Read David Millars book, it is pretty obvious everyone was at it!

  • Dan

    This is a great piece!

    People forget Mr Bruyneel, Dr Celaya, Dr del Moral, Dr Ferrari, Mr Marti, and Mr Armstrong are all charged, lets wait until it’s concluded and hope no witnesses will be intimidated.

    If some ‘no longer care’ why leave a comment

    Enough of people’s (but really Lancelot’s) ‘this is a witch-hunt’
    witch-hunt
    noun
    a campaign directed against a person or group holding views considered unorthodox or a threat to society:
    he claimed he was the victim of a media witch-hunt

    Finally, Mr Simon Richardson, you must really love cancer.

  • EL STIMO

    More along the same lines…. http://www.arpuerta.com/040917.html very concisely written.

    http://velonews.competitor.com/2000/12/news/strock-speaks_79 It’s not just a sporting problem but a health one.

    Quite the wrong attitude..

    U.S. cycling coach defends blood doping

    Mercury News Wire Services

    Blood doping is legal and should be a personal matter left to the individual athlete, the coach of the U.S. Olympic cycling team says.

    “Blood doping is a legal thing. When it’s legal, why does the media make it a big problem?” asked Olympic team coach Edward Borysewicz, who also is national coaching director of the U.S. Cycling Federation.

    Blood doping, also known as blood packing or blood boosting, is a procedure in which an individual receives transfusions of his own or a relative’s blood. The technique is aimed at increasing an athlete’s red-blood-cell count and oxygen level, thereby increasing stamina.

    Some doctors and members of the U.S. Olympic Committee have claimed that some cyclists received such transfusions before their Olympic events.

    “It’s legal; it’s not illegal,” Bory­sewicz said in Honolulu. “So when it’s legal, then whose business is it

    who’s getting the injections?

    “To even ask the question I think is not polite,” he said. “That is an invasion of privacy, and that is not polite, and it’s illegal.”

  • ELSTIMO
  • Jon

    I think he’s also unleashed his minions to pour scorn on any unsympathetic reporting. Fly my fanboys, fly – mwahahaha!

  • PJB

    Over 10 years and it still goes on..is this really doing anyone any good.
    Let the man carry on competing and if he is using maybe he will be caught, if not he can claim his prize.

    It always amazed me that every year there is a mention of Tommy Simpson at the point he dropped dead. Was he not known to be as high as a kite at the time yet we hero worship him.

  • BrianB

    The witch hunt continues. Why not check and re-test every sporting persons drug tests from the last 10 years. These people obviously have plenty of time and money to waste.

  • TJB

    “Livestrong has admitted that they no longer give money to cancer research projects, and, although some money undoubtedly goes towards worthwhile projects, the bulk of it is spent on marketing and promotion.”

    This one sentence shows your bias in this. “…admitted that they no longer give money to cancer research projects…”??? LiveStrong has never claimed to be the American Cancer Society. Though they have given to research in the past, Its mission has always been cancer awareness, survivorship and support.

    Your innuendo suggesting otherwise is a naked provocation and an outright lie.

    Shame.

  • Mick W

    Do I detect a hint of bias in this article ? You seem to have made your mind up already as to his guilt. Personally, I no longer care whether he took drugs or not…. at worst it was a level playing field when you remember the people he was competing against. I still think of him as an inspirational figure, and always will no matter what emerges .

  • Rob

    I’d understand a newspaper or magazine doing it for maximum publicity but was it absolutely necessary for the USADA to take action just before the Tour & Olympics? Whether they’ve got it in for Armstrong or not they appear to be doing their best to damage cycling. This has been dragging on over a decade so why the sudden urgency?

    I’m just glad that Jan Ullrich will finally get the yellow jerseys he deserves… oh.