14th Jun 2012 9:38am | By Laura Chubb
Tour de France legend Lance Armstrong has been charged with blood doping by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
The seven-time former Tour de France winner confirmed on Twitter last night that he had been charged with alleged doping involving EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and masking agent activities between 1998 and 2011.
Until he answers the charges, Armstrong must discontinue his comeback as a triathlete.
The USADA alleges that it collected blood samples from Armstrong in 2009 and 2010 - his comeback years in the Tour de France following his retirement in 2005 - that were "fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions".
However, despite constant testing throughout this period, Armstrong has never supplied a positive test with USADA or anybody else.
Armstrong is adamant that he is innocent.
"USADA intends to again dredge up discredited allegations dating back more than 16 years," he said.
"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.
"These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity."
The USADA is a quasi-government agency that doesn't have the power to bring criminal charges, but it can, if in possession of irrefutable evidence, suspend a competitor and even rescind awards. This means that if it finds Armstrong guilty, he could be stripped of his Tour de France titles.
Travis Tygart, CEO of USADA, said: "USADA only initiates matters supported by the evidence. We do not choose whether or not we do our job based on outside pressures, intimidation or for any reason other than the evidence. Our duty on behalf of clean athletes and those that value the integrity of sport is to fairly and thoroughly evaluate all the evidence available and when there is credible evidence of doping, take action under the established rules."
He added: "As in every USADA case, all named individuals are presumed innocent of the allegations unless and until proven otherwise through the established legal process."
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