Lance Armstrong's long-anticipated appearance at the Ironman World Championships has been put on hold due to blood doping allegations brought against him by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
The USADA charged on Wednesday that it had collected blood samples from 2009 and 2010 that show Armstrong's blood was fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions.
The 15-page letter, originally obtained by the Washington Post, alleges that Armstrong and five former associates participating in a 13-year doping conspiracy. It is expected to call Armstrong and the five associates to a trial hearing to answer questions about blood doping.
The allegations could strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and bar him from competing in the Ironman competition until the matter has been sorted out. He had been heavily training for the competition, including winning a warm-up race at the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii.
Doping allegations are nothing new for Armstrong, who quickly came out and ripped the latest allegations.
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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, the Armstrong statement said. 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. Any fair consideration of these allegations has and will continue to vindicate me.
Throughout his career, most notably during his incredible string of Tour de France victories, critics have alleged that Armstrong was cheating, but time and time again the cancer survivor has proven that he was clean.
Rivals and former teammates alike accused the former cycling giant of cheating the system, but their allegations were never verified. He had charges dropped against him after a two-year investigation, buoyed by testimony by former teammate Floyd Landis, was shut down when nothing could be proven.
Would it surprise anyone if the latest USADA charges proved to be false as well? Of course not, at this point that is the expectation.
But the bigger point is why is there even a need for the USADA to pursue doping allegations against Armstrong in 2012. It's clear that the intentions are to strip him of his Tour de France titles, but the last time he won the famous cycling race was in 2005.
What is there really to gain at this point by besmirching Armstrong's name once again?
Armstrong will yet again beat the doping charges and the only damage done is he probably will be unlikely to compete in the Ironman competitions, which is really just an injustice to sports fans in general. Many were interested to see whether the 40-year-old could win one of the most grueling physical competitions in the world.
This isn't to say that Armstrong has been clean his entire career. It's entirely possible that at one point Armstrong did cheat the system, but his track record would strongly suggest otherwise. He's proven through enough of these outrageous witch hunts that if something was going to be found, it would have been done so a long, long time ago.
At this point it is really just a waste of time and money to pursue further doping charges against Armstrong given all that he has already gone through.
That won't stop the USADA on its crusade against Armstrong, but don't be surprised when yet another government agency comes up with nothing against the sports legend.