The greatest cycling champion of all time continues to exist under a cloud of doping suspicion. Never has he been found to have used performance-enhancing drugs. But the inquires do not seem to stop.
The latest investigation prevents Lance Armstrong from competing in Ironman France, a triathlon event in Nice scheduled for June 24, the World Triathlon Corporation announced Thursday.
WTC rules “dictate an athlete is ineligible to compete during an open investigation. Armstrong is therefore suspended from competing in WTC-owned and licensed races pending further review,” the WTC said in a statement.
Armstrong said Wednesday the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency intends to “dredge up discredited” doping allegations against him in a bid to strip him of his seven Tour de France victories. The champion cyclist has always insisted he never took performance-enhancing drugs. Armstrong was accused of using such drugs by other riders, but never failed a drug test.
“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 on his website. “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.”
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The Washington Post said it received a copy of a 15-page agency letter sent Tuesday to Armstrong and several others. Justice Department prosecutors in February said they closed a criminal investigation after reviewing allegations against Armstrong. They had called witnesses to a federal grand jury in Los Angeles, but they apparently determined they lacked evidence to bring a charge that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs.
“These are the very same charges and the same witnesses that the Justice Department chose not to pursue after a two-year investigation,” Armstrong said Wednesday.
According to the Post, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency alleged it collected blood samples from Armstrong in 2009 and 2010 that were “fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions.” The allegations were previously unpublicized, according to the Post.