"I have never doped," said Lance Armstrong.
"USADA only initiates matters supported by the evidence," said USADA.
"The UCI is not aware of the information," said UCI.
Three press statements within less than a two-hour window and three authentically contrasting messages. The first was delivered by Lance Armstrong after the Washington Post broke the news that USADA had formally charged the seven-time Tour de France winner and five other individuals with doping violations.
Armstrong, a winner of the Tour from 1999 to 2005, has always denied doping and has claimed to be one of the "most tested athletes on the planet" and his defiant vitriol calls USADA's efforts both a "witch hunt" and "wide-ranging conspiracy" - a complete contrast to the message he eked out at the conclusion of the FDA investigation in February where he appeared to tired of fighting authorities, but nevertheless poignant.
After Armstrong's rebuttal, the UCI made its views clear. Caught between a position of knowing nothing and a huge degree of uncertainty, it began by declaring that USADA had at no point contacted them with information regarding the case. Not surprising, perhaps. At the completion of the FDA investigation in February, the UCI expressed relief that the two-year saga had been put to bed, while Travis Tygart and USADA appeared intent on not only retrieving evidence from the FDA and Attorney General's office, but also pressing ahead with its own investigation.
"This is the first time USADA has communicated to UCI on this subject," the sport's governing body said in a statement.
"The UCI is not aware of the information that is available to USADA on the persons concerned and has not been involved in the proceedings opened by USADA."
With all the information to hand, USADA's statement is far more detailed and wide ranging. Lance Armstrong is just one of six individuals facing scrutiny, with US Postal, Astana and RadioShack management among the six individuals named: Johan Bruyneel, Dr. Pedro Celaye, Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral, Dr. Michele Ferrari, and Mr. Pepe Marti are accused of a variety of doping violations, from the administration of doping products, trafficking, assisting and abetting and covering up.
"In response to numerous inquiries regarding the public statements made by Mr. Lance Armstrong, we can confirm that written notice of allegations of anti-doping rule violations was sent yesterday to him and to five (5) additional individuals all formerly associated with the United States Postal Service (USPS) professional cycling team," the statement read.
"These individuals include three (3) team doctors and two (2) team officials. This formal notice letter is the first step in the multi-step legal process for alleged sport anti-doping rule violations."
USADA are clear that their investigation has yet to prove guilt and that all parties are considered innocent.
"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," USADA added.
As for next step, USADA's case will be heard by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) in a three-person panel (each side picks one representative; those two pick the third). The AAA decision can be appealed to CAS. One element is undeniable, this case has the potential to drag on.
Key Points to USADA's case
- Targets listed in USADA letter:
Johan Bruyneel (team director)
Dr. Pedro Celaya (team doctor)
Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral (team doctor)
Dr. Michele Ferrari (consulting doctor)
Pepe Marti (team trainer)
Lance Armstrong (rider)
- USADA's evidence gathered in investigation of potential doping on the United States Postal Service (USPS) (1996-2004), Discovery Channel (2005-2007), Astana (2009) and RadioShack (2010) cycling teams.
- Evidence gathered by USADA from interviews with riders from all referenced cycling teams
- Armstrong only rider who declined to speak with USADA
- Prohibited substances and methods: erythropoietin (EPO), blood transfusions ("blood doping"), testosterone, human growth hormone (hGH), corticosteroids (e.g., cortisone), saline and plasma infusions
- All respondents face following rule violations: Possession of prohibited substances; trafficking of prohibited substances; administration and/or attempted administration of prohibited substances; assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering-up and other complicity involving anti-doping rule violations; and aggravating circumstances justifying a period of ineligibility greater than the standard sanction. Additionally, Lance Armstrong is accused of use and/or attempted us of prohibited substances.
- USADA alleges each of the respondents has been part of a doping conspiracy involving team officials, employees, doctors and cyclists of the USPS and Discovery Channel cycling teams and since they actively participated together the proceeding is being brought as a consolidated case
- USADA alleges the object of the conspiracy has been to cover-up the teams' doping activities via false statements to media, false statements and false testimony given under oath and in legal proceedings, and attempts to intimidate, discredit, silence and retaliate against witnesses
- While the doping allegations brought by USADA expand beyond the eight year statute of limitations, USADA states that all of the respondents took part in doping activities within the eight year statute of limitations and that corroborating evidence from beyond the eight year statute of limitations can still be utilised to prove the conspiracy
- According to USADA protocol, USADA will make written submittal to its Anti-Doping Review Board. All respondents may also provide written submittals by June 22, 2012. Anti-Doping Review Board will decide if there's sufficient evidence to proceed with adjudication process
- Respondents have a right to a hearing if proceedings advance beyond Anti-Doping Review Board. A hearing date should take place prior to November, 2012
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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