Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France record should be “obliterated”, says the head of the World Anti-Doping Alliance, John Fahey. But does Wada have the power to do so?
Mr Fahey’s comments came as Lance Armstrong announced that he would no longer contest charges brought against him by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
The seven-times Tour de France champion has always maintained his innocence but said he was weary of what he described as a “witchhunt” against him: “There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ For me, that time is now.”
Although USADA is an accredited body within the World Anti-Doping Alliance, it still needs the approval of the officials who run the Tour de France before sporting history can be rewritten.
It remains unclear whether that approval will be forthcoming, with the International Cycling Union (UCI), the organisation in charge of the Tour de France, saying it will issue “a reasoned decision” before deciding whether to appeal to gain jurisdiction over the case. It could yet move to wrest final control over Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France record.
USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said UCI was “bound to recognise our decision and impose it” as a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code.
Because Wada is an international collective led by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Mr Armstrong’s Olympic bronze medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games road time trial could also be annulled.
On Monday, Lance Armstrong failed to get a court to back his case that USADA was acting beyond its remit. But despite ruling that it had no power to intervene in a matter of sporting adjudication, the federal court did note the case lacked sufficient evidence to bring a formal charge of using performance-enhancing drugs in a regular court.
District Judge Sam Sparks described the apparent single-minded determination to prosecute Lance Armstrong as “troubling”, given the equally evident desire of Tour de France officials, the UCI, not to proceed against him. Mr Sparks said it was “perplexing” that national and international bodies were “apparently unable to work together to accomplish their shared goal – the regulation and promotion of cycling.”
Without formal prosecution, there will be no public testimony against Mr Armstrong.
USADA had claimed that former teammates and competitors were set to reveal a comprehensive history of doping. In a leaked charge sheet detailing the allegations against Mr. Armstrong and several of his former crew, it stated: “Lance Armstrong’s doping is further evidence by the data from blood collections obtained by the UCI from Lance Armstrong in 2009 and 2010. This data is fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions.”
On Friday, USADA Chief Executive Travis Tygart said that the full details of the case against Mr Armstrong would emerge “at the right time”.