/ Cycling

Armstrong issues statement in anger at latest doping claims

Updated: Thursday, 14 Jun 2012 10:44

Lance Armstrong denies any wrong-doing
Lance Armstrong denies any wrong-doing

Lance Armstrong reacted angrily tonight after reports that the US Anti-Doping Agency has brought charges against the former cyclist that could see him stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

The Washington Post reported that USADA has written to Armstrong outlining charges that relate to allegations of doping that began in 1998 and continued until 2011.

According to the report, the charges include previously unpublicised allegations of doping in 2009 and 2010, after Armstrong came out of retirement.

The USADA was not immediately available for comment on the report.

In a statement tonight, Armstrong said: "I have been notified that USADA, an organisation 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 charges brought by the USADA would immediately prevent Armstrong from competing as a triathlete, the sport he took up following his retirement from cycling in 2011.

Armstrong survived testicular cancer early in his career and went on to win seven consecutive Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005 while competing for the US Postal Service team and the Discovery Channel team.

He retired after the 2005 Tour de France, but returned in 2009, riding for Astana Cycling and RadioShack before retiring for a second time in February 2011, taking up triathlon earlier this year.

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