AUSTIN, Texas – The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency filed formal charges against Lance Armstrong, accusing the seven-time Tour de France winner of using performance-enhancing drugs throughout the best years of his career.
The agency notified Armstrong, former team manager Johan Bruyneel and several other Armstrong team associates of the charges in a letter on Thursday.
The charges came after a USADA review panel examined evidence in the case, which now goes to an arbitration panel to decide. If found guilty, Armstrong could be stripped of the Tour de France titles he won from 1999-2005. This year’s Tour de France begins today.
Armstrong maintains his innocence. Armstrong attorney Robert Luskin called the charges “wrong and baseless.”
Also charged are team doctors Pedro Celaya Lezama and Luis Garcia del Moral, team trainer Pepe Marti and consulting doctor Michele Ferrari. Because they are so closely linked, USADA rolled all of the charges into a single case.
The letter accuses Armstrong of using, possessing and trafficking banned substances, including the blood-booster EPO, blood transfusions and steroids. The charges date back to 1998, after he had been declared cancer free but before his first Tour de France victory the following summer.
Bruyneel, who is the manager of the Radioshack-Nissan-Trek team, recently announced he would skip this year’s Tour because of the USADA investigation.
USADA says it has at least 10 former Armstrong teammates and associates who will testify against the cyclist, and blood samples from 2009 and 2010 that are “fully consistent” with blood doping.