Lance Armstrong may have claimed he will not fight any possible action from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) but it remains to be seen whether or not the USADA will file any case against him.
However, Armstrong's former teammate, Floyd Landis, believes that Armstrong's recent interview with Men's Journal is the nearest the seven-time Tour winner has come to an admission of guilt. Armstrong has always denied the use of performance enhancing drugs. In the past he has fought several legal battles to clear his name, and when allegation from former teammates washed up in 2010 and again in 2011 he brushed them off.
However, in the interview with Men's Journal, Armstrong told the magazine that, "I'm truly done. You can interpret that however you want. But no matter what happens, I'm finished. I'm done fighting. Case closed."
For Landis, who admitted to the use of performance enhancing drugs and who accused Armstrong and several US Postal teammates of organised doping, the interview spoke volumes of the American's position and possible stance should USADA decide to bring any doping violation charges.
"It's always difficult when he's called me and Tyler Hamilton liars. The fact is there are a lot more liars out there, they've just not admitted it.. He can keep trying to spin it however he wants but at the end of the day he's no better than anyone else and one of these days he's going to have to accept it," Landis told Cyclingnews.
Armstrong had a case against him closed earlier this year. However that case was investigating whether fraud charges should be raised. The closure of the case by the United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr, marked the end of a two year period that saw Landis and Hamilton make accusations of drug use.
Both riders admitted their own guilt but claimed that Armstrong as well as several other individuals were also involved. Landis's claims weren't just denied. Soon after the UCI, the sport's governing body, stated they would sue Landis for allegations he made surrounding a covered up doping positive. Landis, however, is still awaiting formal notification of a legal case.
"Unless he's completely deluded himself at this point he knows that virtually nobody believes that he didn't dope. You'd have to have no internet connection to think so," Landis added.
Landis believes that Armstrong could soon face charges from USADA. Two days after the Federal investigation closed, in February, the head of USADA told Cyclingnews that every task would be carried out to uncover if any doping rules had been broken.
"What were his choices?" Landis asked.
"If Armstrong says he's going to fight then he's admitting that there's something to fight. I don't know what USADA or WADA might be bringing but they're the only ones who could take his Tour wins away. I don't know if they've told him they're going to charge him. To me it says, I know I'm about to be charged and my choices are to either ignore it or let them take some Tour wins away. At which point I don't know what would happen. He probably is well off ignoring it because that just leaves everyone else with the dilemma of how to deal with it.
"It sounds to me like he's resigned to the fact he's going to be charged with a doping violation. He might lose it and if that happens he's going to pretend he doesn't care. Rest assured, he cares. In that entire piece the biggest lie is that he doesn't care.
"That article was as near an admission as I've seen from the guy. He's just going to try and convince people that they shouldn't care. Obviously coming from me it's personal but all the cancer awareness in the world doesn't change the fact that he broke the same rules as everyone else."
With USADA not forthcoming with a comment, it remains to be seen what action will follow. A question mark may remain over the statute of limitations however a recent independent arbitration case suggests that although doping allegations date from 1999 to 2004, USADA would pursue a case if evidence warranted it.
Eddy Hellebuyck's case was resolved earlier this year but dated back to offences between 2001 and 2004. At that time, USADA issued the following statement: "We are pleased the Panel has upheld the fundamental principle of fairness for clean athletes. This decision sends a clear message that you can't use performance enhancing drugs to cheat, conceal your violations, and when the truth is revealed, attempt to hide behind the statute of limitations."
"To me it doesn't matter one way or another," Landis said when asked if a USADA case would give him some vindication.
"I know the facts and I think anybody who is capable of coherent thought knows the facts. As far as the Tour wins go, if they take them away, who are they going to give them to? That's the other problem. Literally there would be no one to give them to."
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