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Armstrong declines to cooperate with USADA

Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service team

Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service team (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Lance Armstrong has decided to pass up an opportunity to cooperate with the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in exchange for a possible reduction in his lifetime ban for competition, his attorney Tim Herman confirmed today.

Armstrong's legal team continues to challenge USADA's jurisdiction in the latest statement, but says Armstrong would be willing to work with an "international tribunal" if one were to be established.

"Lance is willing to cooperate fully and has been very clear: He will be the first man through the door, and once inside will answer every question, at an international tribunal formed to comprehensively address pro cycling, an almost exclusively European sport," Herman wrote.

"We remain hopeful that an international effort will be mounted, and we will do everything we can to facilitate that result. In the meantime, for several reasons, Lance will not participate in USADA’s efforts to selectively conduct American prosecutions that only demonize selected individuals while failing to address the 95% of the sport over which USADA has no jurisdiction."

USADA CEO Travis Tygart responded that his organisation will move ahead with its investigation without Armstrong, having provided the Texan with an opportunity to cooperate.

"We have provided Mr. Armstrong several opportunities to assist in our ongoing efforts to clean up the sport of cycling," read a statement from Tygart. "Following his recent television interview, we again invited him to come in and provide honest information, and he was informed in writing by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that this was the appropriate avenue for him if he wanted to be part of the solution. Over the last few weeks he has led us to believe that he wanted to come in and assist USADA, but was worried of potential criminal and civil liability if he did so. Today we learned from the media that Mr. Armstrong is choosing not to come in and be truthful and that he will not take the opportunity to work toward righting his wrongs in sport.

"At this time we are moving forward with our investigation without him and we will continue to work closely with WADA and other appropriate and responsible international authorities to fulfill our promise to clean athletes to protect their right to compete on a drug free playing field."

While Lance Armstrong publicly confessed to doping in January during a two-part television interview with Oprah Winfrey,  Travis Tygart, who led the investigation which brought down Armstrong in 2012, considered the Texan's admissions as just a partial confession and invited Armstrong to come fully clean.

"His admission that he doped throughout his career is a small step in the right direction. But if he is sincere in his desire to correct his past mistakes, he will testify under oath about the full extent of his doping activities," Tygart said in a statement released after Armstrong's televised interview.

At various times during the USADA investigation, Armstrong was given the opportunity to confess, participate or challenge the charges, but he consistently refused to do so. Armstrong's counsel challenged USADA's authority to conduct the investigation, but WADA and the UCI ultimately sided with USADA and stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and banned him for life from competition.

Following Armstrong's appearance with Oprah Winfrey, Tygart provided a final deadline of February 6 for Armstrong to confess under oath to USADA, but that offer was refused as Armstrong's legal counsel again challenged USADA's authority, opting for other avenues instead.

"USADA has no authority to investigate, prosecute or otherwise involve itself with the other 95% of cycling competitors," said Armtrong's attorney Tim Herman. "Thus, in order to achieve the goal of 'cleaning up cycling,' it must be WADA and the UCI who have overall authority to do so."

There seemed to be a shift in the Armstrong camp, however, regarding a confession to USADA. Armstrong and his counsel asked for a two-week extension to the February 6 deadline, which was accepted by USADA.

"We have been in communication with Mr. Armstrong and his representatives and we understand that he does want to be part of the solution and assist in the effort to clean up the sport of cycling," said Tygart. "We have agreed to his request for an additional two weeks to work on details to hopefully allow for this to happen."

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