Armstrong faces doping charges


Cycling:The US Anti-Doping Agency has officially charged Lance Armstrong with a violation, accusing him of doping during most of his cycling career and participating in a doping conspiracy.

The case against Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner who retired from cycling last year, will be heard by an arbitration panel if he rejects the charges. That arbitration hearing could be open to the public, if Armstrong chooses, and could be held by November.

Armstrong, 40, has hinted that he will fight the charges, which are the latest in more than a decade of doping allegations against him, but he has not announced how he will move forward. He says he has never used performance-enhancing drugs.

Johan Bruyneel, Armstrong's long-time team manager; Michele Ferrari, Armstrong's former trainer; two team doctors and a team trainer were also charged with doping violations. They were accused of involvement with the suspected scheme while with the US Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams.

If the charges against them are upheld, Armstrong and the others cited face lifetime bans from cycling and other Olympic sports. Robert D Luskin, one of Armstrong’s lawyers, sent a statement on Friday that said Armstrong was “exploring all his legal options.” He called the anti-doping agency’s decision to charge Armstrong “baseless”.

“There is not one shred of credible evidence to support USADA’s charges,” Luskin said. Luskin said the anti-doping agency charged Armstrong based on an email message from Floyd Landis, who was stripped of the Tour title in 2006 for doping, and a television interview given by Tyler Hamilton, who last year admitted being part of a doping scheme on the US Postal Service team.

Both were Armstrong’s teammates and have claimed that Armstrong doped and encouraged doping. The anti-doping agency has said, however, that it has more than 10 cyclists who will testify against Armstrong, as well as other team employees who will say Armstrong doped. The agency says it has firsthand witnesses for every charge. Armstrong was notified earlier this month that the agency was set to charge him.

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