Armstrong renews USADA attack with lawsuit
Lance Armstrong re-filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday against the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), hours after the group issued life bans against three of his former cycling associates.
Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France champion, wants a federal judge to issue a temporary injunction against USADA pushing forward with charges or punishments against him for charges he was part of a major doping conspiracy.
USADA issued life bans as part of the conspiracy to former US Postal doctor Luis Garcia del Moral, Armstrong’s personal trainer and team consultant Michele Ferrari and coach “Pepe” Marti for what USADA termed “systematic doping within the team” during Armstrong’s run of Tour de France crowns from 1999 to 2005.
“Permanently banning these individuals from sport is a powerful statement that protects the current and next generation of athletes from their influence, and preserves the integrity of future competition,” said USADA chief executive officer Travis T. Tygart.
This trio are part of the group of six, including Armstrong, who were accused by USADA in June of being part of the doping conspiracy.
Another doctor Pedro Celaya, who is presently team doctor to the RadioShack team, and sporting director Johan Bruyneel are also accused of being involved. Bruyneel has denied any wrongdoing.
Armstrong has steadfastly denied taking performance-enhancing drugs, citing the fact he has never tested positive in a drug test, the same defence used by disgraced US track star Marion Jones before she admitted to being a dope cheat.
Armstrong had filed a lawsuit on Monday in US District Court in his hometown of Austin, Texas, but US District Court Judge Sam Sparks dismissed the 80-page suit without ruling on the merits of the case, saying it seemed more of a public relations move than a court case.
The refiled version, only 25 pages, claims USADA lacks jurisdiction in the matter, saying the International Cycling Union (UCI) should press such cases, and that the system USADA uses to judge doping challenges by athletes violates the US Constitution.
USADA could strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and impose a life ban on him if he is found guilty of the charges USADA has brought.
The moves come four months after a two-year US government probe into Armstrong ended with no criminal charges filed.
Armstrong, who has retired from cycling but was hoping to compete in Ironman triathlon events before USADA’s charges foiled that plan, has until Saturday to answer the charges unless the courts issue an injunction against USADA.
The next step would be a hearing before a three-person arbitration panel where Armstrong could present witnesses and challenge evidence.
The losing side would almost certainly appeal with the final decision likely to come from the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
But USADA imposed punishments on three of its accused conspirators and said they chose not to fight the sanctions.
“The respondents chose not to waste resources by moving forward with the arbitration process, which would only reveal what they already know to be the truth of their doping activity,” Tygart said.
“When USADA has information about the existence of a sophisticated, far-reaching doping conspiracy, it is our duty under the established rules to conduct a thorough, fair investigation to uncover the truth.”
There was no indication from USADA that Italy’s Ferrari or Spaniards Marti and Del Moral have cooperated with USADA in its investigation. Nor did USADA detail its evidence against the three or how it was obtained.
USADA says its evidence shows all three possessed, trafficked in and administered performance-enhancing drugs and assisted others in a conspiracy involving such substances.© AFP 2013