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Lance's associates get lifetime bans
Three associates of Lance Armstrong have received lifetime bans for doping violations, the US Anti-Doping Agency announced Tuesday.
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Team doctor Luis Garcia del Moral, team consulting doctor Michele Ferrari and trainer Jose "Pepe" Martí trafficked, encouraged the use of and administered performance-enhancing drugs while part of the US Postal Service team, USADA said in a news release.
Armstrong won six of his seven Tour de France titles as a member of the USPS team.
"The objective of USADA's investigation into the sport of cycling is to protect the rights of clean athletes by ridding the sport of those in the system, whether coach, doctor, trainer, or manager who abuses their influence by encouraging, coercing or assisting athletes in cheating through the use of dangerous performance-enhancing drugs," USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement. "When USADA has information about the existence of a sophisticated, far-reaching doping conspiracy, it is our duty under the established rules to conduct a thorough, fair investigation to uncover the truth."
USADA had already sought a ban of Armstrong and his manager, Johan Bruyneel. Armstrong originally had until Saturday to respond to allegations that he led a conspiracy to use performance-enhancing drugs from 1998 to 2010, but USADA extended that deadline on Wednesday for 30 days.
Armstrong, who could lose some or all of his Tour de France titles, has denied the allegations.
Following the precedent it set in its allegations against Armstrong in June, USADA did not detail how it came about the evidence it had against del Moral, Ferrari or Martí. However, USADA’s claims against the three are lengthy:
• Del Moral, the USPS team physician from 1998 to 2003, allegedly administered blood transfusions to boost a rider’s endurance, gave saline solutions to riders to help avoid detection of drug use and provided a number of banned drugs, including endurance-boosting erythropoietin (EPO) and testosterone.
• Ferrari, a consulting doctor for riders on the USPS team and later Discovery Channel team, is accused of developing “a distinctive mixture of testosterone and olive oil” (known as "the oil") to assist with recovery, advising riders to use EPO and creating doping schedules to help riders avoid failing a drug test.
• Martí, a trainer for the USPS and Discovery Channel team from 1999 to 2007, “delivered performance-enhancing drugs, including EPO, testosterone, human growth hormone (HGH) and cortisone” from his native Spain to riders living, competing or training elsewhere in Europe, according to USADA. Marti also allegedly assisted injections of EPO, saline and blood transfusions.
“Permanently banning these individuals from sport is a powerful statement that protects the current and next generation of athletes from their influence, and preserves the integrity of future competition,” Tygart said.
Armstrong filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday aimed at blocking USADA’s actions against him. The suit, however, was dismissed within hours as US District Court Judge Sam Sparks wrote that the court would not “indulge Armstrong's desire for publicity, self-aggrandizement or vilification” of USADA.
The lawsuit was resubmitted Tuesday afternoon. The new suit does not include attacks on Tygart — the original filing claimed he has a “well-publicized obsession” of “getting” Armstrong — and USADA, which the initial suit called a “kangaroo court.”
More than just a PR maneuver, however, the lawsuit raises a few issues about USADA’s authority to investigate Armstrong for deeds that allegedly happened, in many cases, more than a decade ago and overseas.
Armstrong’s lawyers argue that USADA — an independent organization largely funded by taxpayer money — should have to abide by US laws, which would allow Armstrong the ability to confront his accusers and have the means to examine the evidence via the discovery process. Also, under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code, an arbitration panel — not a jury — has the final say in these matters.
The other arguments put forth by Armstrong's lawyers included the contention that the International Cycling Union (UCI) — not USADA — has authority in this case, USADA is illegally breaking WADA's eight-year statute of limitations and enticed prospective witnesses to lie in exchange for reduced doping bans.
Armstrong's legal team had also contemplated filing for a temporary injunction in addition to the lawsuit. But Tim Herman, one of Armstrong’s lawyers, said in a statement the extension granted by USADA on Wednesday "will allow the court sufficient time to evaluate Mr. Armstrong's amended complaint."
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