Lance Armstrong – the cancer survivor and cycling champion who is a role model for millions worldwide – will officially face doping charges, the US Anti-Doping Agency announced late today.
The three-member USADA panel said the case would advance to an arbitration hearing should Armstrong elect to fight the charges, Reuters reported.
“The three-person review board has conducted a full evaluation and has made a unanimous recommendation to move forward with the adjudication process in accordance with the rules,” the USADA said in a statement.
Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France champion, has never failed a drug test despite numerous allegations from race organizers and even teammates.
He has fiercely denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs.
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Doug Ulman, CEO of the Lance Armstrong foundation, questioned the USADA’s motives.
“We are concerned about the integrity and oversight of this proceeding and hope that Lance will be given the opportunity he deserves to assert his innocence,” Ulman said.
The USADA said Armstrong doped during the height of his career, when he dominated the grueling Tour de France in consecutive years from 1999 to 2005.
In addition, Armstrong's team doctors Pedro Celaya Lezama and Luis Garcia del Moral, trainer Pepe Marti and consulting doctor Michele Ferrari face charges, The Associated Press reported.
Armstrong’s lawyer said the decision refutes common sense.
Robert Luskin said Armstrong has passed 500 drug tests in more than a decade.
“It is the entirely predictable product of USADA’s toxic obsession with Lance Armstrong and a process in which truth is not a priority,” Luskin said in a statement.
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