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Big fine and potential prison sentence should disgraced cyclist stand trial and be found guilty

Spanish anti-doping authorities have confirmed that they are investigating Lance Armstrong, raising the prospect that the disgraced cyclist may stand trial on criminal charges of "trafficking, distribution and commercialization of doping drugs," reports ABC News.

If charges were brought and former Girona, Catalonia resident Armstrong found guilty, he could face up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to €400,000, says ABC.

The station adds that Ana Munoz, who is in charge of Spain’s national anti-doping authority, the Agencia Estatal Antidopaje (AEA), has confirmed in an interview with a German television station that an investigation is under way.

"What I can tell you so far is that we are following up on the Armstrong case. Not only because we were involved in the investigation back then but also because we are really interested that every person, Spanish or not, who has committed a crime in our country be prosecuted," she said.

The investigation is reportedly based in part on evidence contained in the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s Reasoned Decision in the Armstrong case, with inquiries ongoing in Girona itself as well as in Alicante, Valencia and Tenerife.

The potential €400,000 fine is set in a new, tougher anti-doping law currently going through the legislative process, designed to replace an existing statute passed in 2006 (English translation here) and which took effect in early 2007. 

That earlier law, introduced after the Operacion Puerto scandal broke - the current trial relating to that is based on charges related to public health, rather than doping offences - provides for a maximum jail sentence of two years for supplying performance enhancing drugs to others.  

Questions would presumably arise, however, of whether the increased financial penalty applicable under the new law could be successfully applied retrospectively.

Moreover, much if not all of the period likely to be under investigation would predate the existing law. Armstrong switched his European base from France to Spain in 2000.

While moving to Girona meant Armstrong was closer to some of his US Postal team mates who had made the city their home, it also made it easier for him to maintain contact with team medical staff as well as putting him beyond the reach of French investigators, seen as more assiduous than their Spanish counterparts.

Spain’s sports minister Jose Ignacio Wert has said that the new law will demonstrate that the country is tough on doping.

Its perceived lax attitude and the weakness of existing legislation are thought to be hampering Madrid’s chances of hosting the 2020 Olympic Games.

Some have interpreted the prospect of Armstrong may face criminal proceedings in Spain – and the inevitable worldwide headlines such news has generated – as a way of deflecting attention away from the Operacion Puerto trial, now heading towards its conclusion.

Certainly, neither ABC News nor Mail Online, which has also carried the Armstrong story, makes reference to Puerto in their report.

However, AEA chief Munoz has herself called for the court in Madrid that is hearing the case to release the blood bags seized as part of the investigation so that they can be tested for DNA matches to athletes.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

8 comments

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GerardR [123 posts] 3 years ago
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This sounds more about improving their chances of hosting the Olympics than a serious commitment to anti-doping. Mind you, as the costs sink in, they may be glad not to get the Olympics!

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crazy-legs [767 posts] 3 years ago
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If they could investigate the other cheating bastard who won the Tour but just happens to be Spanish that would be good.
Also, all the other cyclists like Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis etc who lived in Girona, partly cos it's ever such a lovely place but also cos Spain's anti doping laws are virtually non-existent...

And also, if they could please make Dr Fuentes tell us all exactly what clients he had from what sports, that might make interesting reading too.

But oh no, that'll never happen, we'll do the old get-out-of-jail card of going after Armstrong, making it look like we're doing something, then quietly letting Bertie have a good bit of steak again.

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Sadly Biggins [269 posts] 3 years ago
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Good luck with extraditing him from the US if any criminal trial comes about

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mikeprytherch [223 posts] 3 years ago
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Couldn't agree more crazy-legs, this is the same country that is refusing to go after football or tennis even though there appears to be lots of evidence on drugs use, Armstrong and everybody else should be investigate, not just one man.

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bikeandy61 [532 posts] 3 years ago
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Yes I have to agree. Window dressing. Contador, Valverde etc. Too much emphasis is being put on the past when it I the present and future that needs to be the top priority IMO. Even though LA made a rod for his own back he is just the easiest target for all these agencies/people.

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Lungsofa74yearold [282 posts] 3 years ago
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Agree with crzylegs. And whilst they are at it, they might want to ask a certain other Spanish rider from the early 90's how it was possible for a man weighing 85kg or so to keep up with the best climbers without even ever getting out of the saddle / breaking a sweat? That would be interesting too...  39

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davebinks [149 posts] 3 years ago
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crazy-legs wrote:

If they could investigate the other cheating bastard who won the Tour but just happens to be Spanish that would be good.
Also, all the other cyclists like Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis etc who lived in Girona, partly cos it's ever such a lovely place but also cos Spain's anti doping laws are virtually non-existent...

And also, if they could please make Dr Fuentes tell us all exactly what clients he had from what sports, that might make interesting reading too.

But oh no, that'll never happen, we'll do the old get-out-of-jail card of going after Armstrong, making it look like we're doing something, then quietly letting Bertie have a good bit of steak again.

Spot on comment.

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onlyonediane [156 posts] 3 years ago
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Another witchhunt, sounds like a sound bite from the Spanish. Is there any money to do so anyway?