USADA chief executive says Lance Armstrong could have kept 5 Tour de France titles if he'd come clean

Cover-up means statute of limitations doesn't apply, says Travis Tygart; details of action against witnesses coming soon

by Simon_MacMichael   August 28, 2012  

Lance Armstrong (pic courtesy Photosport International)

The CEO of the US Anti Doping Agency (USADA), Travis Tygart, has said that Lance Armstrong may have been allowed to keep all but two of his seven Tour de France titles had he co-operated with the agency with its enquiry. In an interview published yesterday in USA Today, Tygart also said that details of action to be taken against a number of Armstrong’s former team mates who testified against him will be revealed shortly.

Last Friday, USADA banned Armstrong from sport regulated by the World Anti-Doping Code for life and stripped him of his competitive results dating back to 1 August 1998, the year he made his comeback from cancer. The results from which he has been disqualified include his seven consecutive victories in the Tour de France between 1999 and 2005.

While the World Anti-Doping Code stipulates a statute of limitations of eight years in respect of doping offences, it is possible to extend that in cases where there has been a cover-up.

Tygart told USA Today that if the 40-year-old had "come in and been truthful, then the evidence might have been that the statute should apply [which] would have been fine by us."

USADA’s CEO said that would have meant Armstrong losing only his last two Tour de France titles from 2004 and 2005, and also said that his ban could have been reduced "if he would have been truthful and willing to meet to help the sport move forward for the good."

Leaving the door open for what would appear to be an unlikely rapprochement with the former US Postal rider, he added: "Of course, this is still possible and we always remain open, because while the truth hurts, ultimately, from what we have seen in these types of cases, acknowledging the truth is the best way forward,” he added.

Last week, a judge in Austin, Texas dismissed a lawsuit from Armstrong who had argued that USADA had no jurisdiction in the matter, instead saying that it should be dealt with by the UCI.

Following that decision, on Thursday evening, Armstrong issued a statement saying that he would not challenge USADA’s charges through arbitration.

He also continued to insist that he had been the victim of a “witch hunt” and that the agency had no authority to impose the sanctions that it subsequently confirmed.

Tygart continues to maintain that USADA, which will publish its full, reasoned decision shortly, does have jurisdiction in the issue, pointing out that both the UCI and the World Anto-Doping Agency (WADA) will be able to appeal it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, should they so wish.

"Unless and until it is appealed and overturned, then under the world rules, it must be imposed," he explained.

Speaking of the reaction to Friday’s announcement, Tygart said: "We are all crushed when our sports heroes disappoint us.

"I have had a few communications with disappointed people about how deeply sorry we are for the decisions made by those involved with the [Armstrong] doping conspiracy and the facts we were handed.

“But they seem to appreciate the difficult but important job we have to do for clean athletes and the integrity of competition," he went on, highlighting what he called "an outpouring of support" for USADA’s actions.

"Parents and others who value the rights of clean athletes and the integrity of sport have e-mailed, called and shown their appreciation for us doing our job.

"Of course, we have also received some disturbing e-mails and threats. At the end of the day, we do our job based on the evidence — nothing more and nothing less."

As far as the witness testimony from former team mates of Armstrong is concerned, Tygart said that USADA “will be announcing the consequences and other details on other riders in the coming weeks."

While the identity of those riders has not officially been confirmed, the Armstrong camp has consistently cast doubt on their reliability, alleging that they have struck deals with USADA in order to mitigate the consequences for themselves.

However, by declining to exercise his right to an arbitration hearing, Armstrong and his lawyers will not now have the opportunity to cross-examine those witnesses and attack their credibility.

Tygart also described Armstrong’s claims that he is the victim of a personal vendetta as "totally baseless and untrue," saying that the former cyclist is "baselessly attacking those who are just doing their job."

20 user comments

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So who gets the tour titles?

posted by adscrim [109 posts]
28th August 2012 - 9:51

4 Likes

What happened to innocent until proved guilty, the French could not catch him doping (and I am sure they wanted to) but this little fact doesn't seem to bother the Usada. I don't really care one way or the other wether he did or didn't (ancient history) but I must admit to being slighty outraged by this decision.

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [596 posts]
28th August 2012 - 9:56

2 Likes

Well reading about it it seems that it was Lance's choice not to have the allegations tested. In normal court proceedings where innocent until proven guilty applies the accused doesn't get to choose if he is to face charges!

posted by davkt [37 posts]
28th August 2012 - 10:20

2 Likes

Adscrim - No idea what action will be taken, we will find out in the fullness of time. There's probably a good case for leaving the winner's name blank for 1999-2005.

Fatbeggar - "Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?"

Well, that went out of the window the moment Armstrong chose not to take USADA's charges to independent arbitration.

He had the right to do that and for whatever reason chose not to exercise it.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8284 posts]
28th August 2012 - 10:22

2 Likes

I don't see how they could let him keep two titles? Either he was doped for them or he wasn't?!

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

Cooks's picture

posted by Cooks [491 posts]
28th August 2012 - 10:37

1 Like

Cooks wrote:
I don't see how they could let him keep two titles? Either he was doped for them or he wasn't?!

It's five he could potentially keep, not two.

As the article says, ordinarily there is an 8-year statute of limitations under the World Anti-Doping Code.

So in this case, only the 2004 and 2005 Tours would fall within that period.

Due to the alleged cover-up and fact that Armstrong has not co-operated, USADA say that doesn't apply in this case, hence the disqualification stretching back to August 1998 (the earliest date to which the charges relate).

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8284 posts]
28th August 2012 - 10:46

3 Likes

FATBEGGARONABIKE wrote:
What happened to innocent until proved guilty, the French could not catch him doping (and I am sure they wanted to) but this little fact doesn't seem to bother the Usada. I don't really care one way or the other wether he did or didn't (ancient history) but I must admit to being slighty outraged by this decision.

FATBEGGARONABIKE - you are amusing. You 'don't really care' but admit to being 'slightly outraged'? Firstly you can't paint yourself as a disinterested, impartial observer in the first sentence and then point out your emotional involvement in the next. Or at least you can't do it intelligently.

Secondly - and I really can't stress this enough to ALL OF YOU OUT THERE WHO KEEP REPEATING THIS CLAP-TRAP - he DID test positive. More than once. Period! And he WAS innocent until proven guilty but he has just thrown that away - the case against him is now so strong that he does not feel able to contest it. Are you suggesting that putting your fingers in your ears and repeating "la-la-la-la-la I'm not listening" is a compelling defence??

Seriously one more time - I know there are some people here who REALLY want to believe in the tooth fairy so just to be clear: Lance Armstrong has just publicly admitted his guilt. Granted, he did it in the most vague, nebulous and spineless way imaginable - after spending years harrassing ex-team-mates and witnesses, spouting about witch hunts and mud-slinging from people with an axe to grind, he finally has the chance to face these accusations in the open and put the whole matter to rest once and for all. And he is not taking that chance. No no - the pursuit of him is unfair and hurts his feelings so he's not playing any more.

I understand Armstrong's actions - I think they are selfish and pathetic but at least they are consistent with everything he has done and everything he stands for. What I will never understand is people like you! What is so wrong in your life that you need to stake a claim in the ludicrous and the laughable?

If you read the evidence (yes 'evidence' not speculation or accusations - EVIDENCE!) properly - all of it, I am convinced that it is impossible to believe LA's innocence. So what is going on here? Are you people wilfully deranged? Misguided? Ignorant certainly - none of the 'believers' seem to have a basic recall of the facts (hence 'he's never failed a test' and all the other favourite mantras thrown about by the Armstrong camp)

After a very long time his personal nightmare has finally come about - the details are all about to come out and paint him as one of the biggest cheats and liars on the planet...so he walks away and accepts the sanction quietly. This being the lesser evil and less damaging to his foundation/life/business etc...and yet STILL you people are clinging to the myth.

Starting to feel you lot are the same people who claim the moon landings were faked and Elvis is living in Shoreditch and...

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
28th August 2012 - 11:25

5 Likes

I hope that in 5 years' time Armstrong will find the guts to write an article like Vaughters just did. That would be fine. 'Til then, so long and thanks for all the fish.

posted by BigDummy [296 posts]
28th August 2012 - 11:33

4 Likes

Funny how Lance Armstrong and the helmet debate seem to justify forum users insulting each other.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3348 posts]
28th August 2012 - 11:42

0 Likes

What I don't understand is why it takes weeks to release all this information. If they have him nailed why can't USADA just come out with everything at once? It seems they are enjoying this way to much. Plus, I want to know how much money you have spent CEO Tygart. Think they have already picked out who will play Lance in the movie about this?

posted by glock59 [10 posts]
28th August 2012 - 12:46

2 Likes

glock59 wrote:
What I don't understand is why it takes weeks to release all this information. If they have him nailed why can't USADA just come out with everything at once? It seems they are enjoying this way to much. Plus, I want to know how much money you have spent CEO Tygart. Think they have already picked out who will play Lance in the movie about this?

According to USADA, there are several other people who will likely be sanctioned as a part of this investigation, so they can't put everything out in public yet, as those details would impact the rest of the investigation.

As an aside, if you really want to see the epitome of fanboyism, check out the comments on LA's recent Strava rides! It's actually downright comical.

posted by TheBigMong [218 posts]
28th August 2012 - 14:33

2 Likes

TheBigMong wrote:

As an aside, if you really want to see the epitome of fanboyism, check out the comments on LA's recent Strava rides! It's actually downright comical.

Which one?! There are ten people called Lance Armstrong on Strava, half of whom haven't even bothered riding...

I need a laugh, what's his username?

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3348 posts]
28th August 2012 - 14:51

1 Like

The way this is going it reminds me of the series 'Lost' ie you think you are going to get the full story then find that there is a whole new series to come. I got fed up with 'Lost' and stopped watching.... Lance looked more and more guilty as the people he beat turned out to be doped.... But people have been hung for murder because they were 'obviously guilty', only to be subsequently found unquestionably innocent. I would rather he gets away with it than be found guilty in some roundabout way. Is it too much to ask what this evidence is exactly?

posted by SideBurn [838 posts]
28th August 2012 - 15:15

3 Likes

notfastenough wrote:
TheBigMong wrote:

As an aside, if you really want to see the epitome of fanboyism, check out the comments on LA's recent Strava rides! It's actually downright comical.

Which one?! There are ten people called Lance Armstrong on Strava, half of whom haven't even bothered riding...

I need a laugh, what's his username?


He goes by the moniker "Juan Pelota" on Strava (and Twitter.)

posted by TheBigMong [218 posts]
28th August 2012 - 15:28

2 Likes

Dear Mr Fatbeggaronabike

Instead of being "slightly outraged" take your fat head out of the sand and do a bit of research.
Use a bit of intelligence & you will see he is guilty and the facts are all there if you choose to see them.

posted by festival [102 posts]
28th August 2012 - 17:45

1 Like

festival; can we keep this polite? This is a forum to air views and opinions. Yes, Lance looks guilty as hell, but I and others like to keep an open mind and would like to see/hear the evidence; not just imagine what it may be. Is this too much to ask?

posted by SideBurn [838 posts]
28th August 2012 - 18:38

3 Likes

For those who consider Lance Armstrong guilty of doping, ask yourself one question. Would you feel the same way if the same allegations were made against your favourite athlete? If not, why not?

Can anyone point me in the direction of anyone else who has been so relentlessly hounded by the press and the USADA over the years? It's no wonder Hinault said this should have been sorted out years ago. I wonder how much evidence is being given under duress as well.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [291 posts]
28th August 2012 - 20:46

2 Likes

Has it occurred to ANY of you that Armstrong might just have rolled over because he heads a charity, and he would rather spend what money he has on the charity, instead of on lawyers?

Anyone with any experience of dealing with legal process against a powerful quasi state body would know that there can only be two outcomes - you lose, or you lose your shirt.

posted by Paul M [318 posts]
29th August 2012 - 20:50

2 Likes

notfastenough wrote:
Funny how Lance Armstrong and the helmet debate seem to justify forum users insulting each other.

Would love to have a type 'block user' function on road.cc, so that I don't get to see anything they ever type - on the forums, comments or anywhere else.

Could we?

My first two blocks: festival & Lacticlegs

~rbx

rbx's picture

posted by rbx [243 posts]
30th August 2012 - 0:12

0 Likes

notfastenough wrote:
Funny how Lance Armstrong and the helmet debate seem to justify forum users insulting each other.

You forgot Rapha Wink

(as the story I just stuck up about them supplying Sky will demonstrate, I reckon)

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8284 posts]
30th August 2012 - 8:22

3 Likes